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June 21, 2014

Relocation of local Christian youth ministry continues

JACKSONVILLE — Transformation continues on a 100-year-old cotton gin that will house a Christian youth ministry, but Eagle's Nest leaders hope Thursday's open house will give the community a better idea of what is needed to get the project fully launched.

“The only thing we have left (to complete) is electrical and plumbing," Director James Kimbrell said. “I've got another several hours of work left to put up plywood, but that won't take long.”

According to fellow evangelist Levi Lutz, who helps head up the ministry, Eagle's Nest has owned the building – located across from the local post office – since 2009.

While necessary maintenance was done to the building, it mostly was used for storage while the ministry operated out of another site not too far away. However, Lutz said in a previous interview, it had come to a point where the building needed to be utilized, rather than putting funds into a lease agreement at the other site.

“It has always been the ministry's goal to be out of there and moved into the cotton gin building,” Lutz said.

This past year, he took over the reins from founders Larry and Lori McGlade, who began the ministry to teenagers in 1999.

It provided youths a place for games and entertainment, as well as a daily Bible study, something Kimbrell says will continue at the new site.

“As you come through the front door – that'll be the check-in – you walk into the game room, which we're wanting to be an arcade room with air hockey and foosball and a pool table. Then you go into another room, which will be the sanctuary, where Bible study will be held,” he said, adding that eventually a kitchen will be added.

About 18 to 22 loads of trash have been cleared out of the building since this past November, Kimbrell said.

“A lot of the stuff stored in here was in such bad shape or wasn't good,” he said of items donated through the years. “What was still good has been donated to Goodwill or The Mission, but there was some stuff in here that was in bad condition.”

Other than small repairs to ensure the building stays in good shape – along with the necessary electrical and plumbing work – “we're going to leave the outside exactly as it is. We'll probably put the Eagle's Nest logo on the big wall, otherwise, we'll leave it exactly the same,” Kimbrell said.

No hard opening date has been set, but he said he hopes the community will attend the open house, scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m. Thursday, and be inspired to help fulfill a wish list that leaders have cobbled together.

“It all depends on the community, on funding and donations,” Kimbrell said. “That's why we're having the open house, to get the community involved. We're hoping that as soon as we get the electrical and plumbing done, we can kick (the ministry) off.”

Quote from plumbers and electricians average $8,000 to $10,000, most of which will be used to upgrade the facilities to meet ADA standards, he said.

Items sought include musical instruments, lighting and sound equipment, arcade games and plywood.

“We need sound equipment, musical instruments – we're trying to get the kids more involved, so we're looking to start up a worship band. We want to give the kids a reason to come – a lot of them don't have money, so we're hoping people will donate (instruments),” Kimbrell said. “A lot of our sound and stage equipment was damaged or outdated, so we're needing all kinds.”

Arcade games “are a big (wish list item) – we had a few at the other site at one time, but they were worn out. We had them from when Larry and Lori first opened Eagle's Nest, and the kids really loved them.”

The plywood will be used for lining walls because it is more durable than sheetrock, he explained.

United Fund board president Nancy Washburn said the ministry is one of several funded by the organization and is important “because it gives teenagers a safe place to go and something to do.

“It's a needed place here, and that's been verified by both audience and participation.”

United Fund has been “monitoring the project and working with them to ensure that activities are started up again, but we also hope that the community supports them so that we can continue to fund them in years to come,” she said.

Volunteers are always welcome, Kimbrell said, and they can contact the office at 936-326-9765 or call his cell, 936-371-2151 to inquire about how to help.

They also may contact the Eagle's Nest by mail, at P.O. Box 233, Sacul, TX 75788, for information or to donate funds.

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