Gospel singcould boostLH center

LAUREL HILL — Organizers of a free event planned for later this month aim to showcase the talent of local gospel groups as well as the versatility of the Laurel Hill Community Center.

The Friends of the Laurel Hill Community Center are sponsoring a gospel singing on July 17, starting at 6:30 p.m. in the center’s auditorium. Sales of hotdogs, chips and drinks from a nearby classroom will help offset the cost of renting the building, said Connie Coleman, a member of the group.

“This is a self-generating concert series and without the support of the community we cannot continue to have them,” Coleman said.

Community members can show their support simply by showing up.

In March, a group of Laurel Hill residents who banded together in support of the center were told by Scotland County Parks and Recreation Director Shannon Newton that the department’s advisory board would “have to demonstrate significant support” before asking the county for funding. Without renovation, the center may not remain usable and could eventually be partially demolished.

Mike McGirt, county maintenance supervisor, has estimated that “minimal repairs’’ would include $1,680 to repair 22 exterior doors; $5,000 to re-glaze and repaint windows; $20,000 to replace a deteriorated section of roof over the bleachers in the gymnasium, which is still in regular use; and $15,000 for removal of a leaking, rusting steel shelter over the sidewalk in front of the building.

“This is really important, not just to Laurel Hill but Scotland County,” Coleman said, adding that the July 17 event would ideally be the first in a series of concerts.

“We are going to have to use it, or we will lose it,” chimed in Nancy Shelley, another member of the board. “We’re trying to have something at least every month.”

The centerpiece of the evening’s entertainment is The Skylite Boys, a quartet formed in 1961 in McColl, South Carolina. Lead songwriter and singer Lowell Locklear lives in Laurinburg.

Other singers include Richard Tyson, Billy Ray Norris, Charles Taylor and Kevin and Shirley Howell, as well as the group Spirit Born.

“We’re hoping to provide some things in Laurel Hill, somewhere for folks to go who may not have the money to go out of town — something cheap that’s a good, fun time,” Coleman said.

For information on the concert or the Friends, call Coleman at 910-462-2424.

Abbi Overfelt can be reaced at 910-506-3023.

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