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Rubonia Center Gets Much Needed Helping Hand


BRADENTON -- It was back in August of last year when Palm View Elementary student Tyreke Lee showed up with his twin brother, Tyrell, their cousin Moody Johnson and grandfather, Reverend W.D. Sims, at a BOCC meeting to request help for their Rubonia Community Center. Since then, the center has been in limbo, and not available for after-school activities or other events traditionally held there. But it appears there's now a plan (and the funds) to go forward with saving the vital community resource.

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At Tuesday's BOCC meeting, Cheri Coryea, Director of Neighborhood Services for Manatee County, reviewed a strategy to help the ailing facility. Coryea and staff discovered the community has migrated to a slightly older demography. She said, "Many of the younger residents have moved away or closer to town." Coryea explained that the center's future will not be as exclusively youth-based as it was in the past.

Coryea says the community center will look forward to after school programs like "drop in", but will also entertain health and nutrition programs, book clubs with story time events and technology, all while putting focus on community control. She said, "We want to get the moms involved."

Coryea helped to convince commissioners to fund a program that would run through June of this year at a cost of $35,000. The contract to run the Rubonia Community Center, at 1309 72nd St. East, just north of Palmetto, will be with United Community Centers Inc. That organization is headed by Patrick Carnegie, who also operates Norma Lloyd Park's "Dream Center" located at 1024 24th Street East in Bradenton. 

Rubonia residents have complained that revenue raised by the annual Rubonia/Terra Ceia Mardi Gras has gone to the newly built Dream Center. United Community Centers Inc. is a non-profit that operates in partnership with the county. But Carnegie confirmed that his group has not been involved in the Mardi Gras event for seven years and said that none of the money from that event has ever benefited the Dream Center.

Tuesday's approval passed Resolution B-13-033, amending the county's annual budget, allowing the county to take the $35,000 out of the general fund while staying in compliance with Florida Statute 129.06, which prohibits unappropriated funds to go to non-profits. Commissioners are hoping the 19-week, one-shot plan will take the community center to where civic participation will be able to fund its future.


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