By Nathan Straus
The city of Jacksonville signed over ownership of the city’s recreation center and rodeo grounds to Lon Morris College Friday. Closing paperwork was completed in the Norman Law Center in Jacksonville with City Attorney Joe Angle overseeing the procedure.
Mayor Robert Haberle arrived to sign the city’s portion of the paperwork at around 2 pm. Lon Morris College President Dr. Miles McCall then arrived for the college’s half. The work was finished around 2:30 pm.
“It’s now property of Lon Morris College,” McCall said.
Haberle said the city gave the college the rodeo grounds and recreation building free of charge as part of a deal three years in the making.
“The land has been gifted to the college in exchange for them maintaining and operating it,” Haberle said.
Lon Morris will also grant the city special privileges for using the property, and the Tops in Texas Rodeo event will not be affected, he added.
“It’s a win for everyone, the whole community,” Haberle noted.
McCall said the college is trying to grow, and college growth generates tax money.
“It’s a lot of burgers, a lot of Wal Mart trips,” McCall said. “We are in the process of expanding in a lot of ways and this land will allow us to attract students we’ve not attracted in the past.”
Haberle said the change in ownership will mean taxpayers no longer pay to keep the recreation center standing.
“We were putting time and money into a building we use for sporadic events,” the mayor said.
There’s going to be a lot of work to do over a long period of time, McCall said, but the college is up to the task. With a good donor backing the facility, there will useful sports add-ons such as a racketball court and rock climbing wall.
By Nathan Straus
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