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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2022
Special Projects Coordinator
City of Enterprise
The front door of the historic M.N. (Jug) Brown Recreation Center was locked to the public for the last time June 22 to conclude a bittersweet decommissioning ceremony.
Community Services and Recreation Director Billy Powell locked the door as directed by Mayor William E. Cooper in a symbolic gesture which signaled the end of an era for the building. The facility is set to be demolished later this summer to make way for construction of a new, updated recreation center complex at the site at 421 E. Lee Street.
“This is a bittersweet occasion for us all as the time has come to close the doors of this iconic structure, which was the central focus of the Enterprise Parks and Recreation Department for almost 64 years,” said Mayor William E. Cooper. “This building has been a host to generations of people, of entire families who enjoyed recreational activities, dancing, exercising, summer camp, sports …”
Cooper said everyone in the audience most likely had unforgettable memories of either playing sports, attending events or working at the Recreation Center.
“We want to remember the traditions started here, the relationships created and the people who made this program work for so many years,” he said. “We are here to pay tribute to what this structure has meant in our lives. If it were a living thing, we could easily say the Jug Brown Center is an example of a life well lived.”
Cooper said if the Rec Center walls could talk, “what stories they could tell!”
Neal Brown, son of the former mayor for whom the building was named, spoke at ceremony on behalf of family members. At one point, he laughed and said, “I sure am glad the walls can’t talk!”
He shared memories of when the building first opened back in 1958, when he was just 13 years old. “I swam in the pool. I played on the ball fields as many of you have,” he said. “My family has spent hours and hours and hours right here.”
Brown said his father, M.N. Brown, who served as Enterprise mayor for 18 years, would be proud that the building had served so many youth through the years and that the Recreation program had grown to what it is today.
“The point I would like to make from back at the point of inception of this building is the teamwork of the family of Enterprise. This was not a one-man job. This was a team, and they all had the vision to see what we needed, for raising our families, to educate our children and to provide recreation.”
Brown said many people through the years have dedicated their lives to serving children, youth and adults in that building and the surrounding sports facilities, including the Moose Hope gym, the pool and ball fields.
“Today, it’s obvious the family of Enterprise still sees the opportunity to always improve, to always provide the services they can to the citizens,” Brown said.
Memories of the building and the lives it touched through the years will remain precious, but Brown indicated that progress requires change.
“Let’s don’t stand where we are,” he said. “Let’s move forward.”
Longtime Department of Parks and Recreation Center Revenue Clerk India Hussey also shared memories of the Jug Brown Center, where she worked for many years. She talked of the camaraderie of staff members, funny moments through the years and the sincerity of city leaders and staff members who cared for the children, youth and adults who participated in the many sports and activities offered.
The City’s longest-serving Recreation Director, Billy Powell, thanked Brown and Ms. Hussey for sharing stories about their experiences relating to the building.
“I want to thank all of your for coming out today to give this building the farewell it deserves,” he said.
Powell, who was Recreation Director for 25 years and now serves the City director of Community Services and Recreation, admitted that he had mixed emotions about the day.
“Quite frankly, I’m a little more emotional than I expected to be. But I guess a building can become like an old friend when you spend 25 years working in it, giving part of your life to it,” he said. “I, too, have memories of this place and the people who worked with me inside those walls that I will carry the rest of my life.”
Powell said that while he is sad, he is also proud. “I’m proud to come before you today as part of a legacy of leaders who headquartered in this building through the years, who guided a recreation program that has evolved and brought us to this day.”
The first director of the Center was Dan Hale, assisted by Herbert Hawkins, Dan Pridgen, Jerry Tillman, Ruth Glover Harris and Jacquelyn Dyar. Miss Dyar later became Mrs. Harold Thompson and some years after that, became Mayor Jacquelyn Thompson.
In 1962, Moose Hope became the part-time director of the center, which had become the Parks and Recreation Department by that time. In 1968, he became full-time director and came to be another icon in our community. He was followed by Doug Watkins and David Hope.
“I’m proud of the solid foundation they handed me in 1996 when I became Parks and Recreation Director. Their work enabled me to continue to mold and build upon the city’s recreational program and facilities,” Powell said.
Today, the recreation program serves thousands of children, youth and adults. The program operates 35 ball fields, seven parks, eight tennis courts and a myriad of fitness programs, recreation and education programs that serve people over all socio-economic backgrounds.
“The M.N. (Jug) Brown Center does hold many fond memories. For more than six decades it has been the brick and mortar backbone of the programs that helped to teach our youth about commitment, discipline, the competitive spirit, teamwork and good character. Our goal has been and continues to be to mold young people into successful adults,” Powell said.
“So today, we are decommissioning this facility so we can take the next step in our continuing effort to be progressive. This building will disappear, but another larger, state-of-the-art facility will spring up in its place. It will be our responsibility to uphold the legacy of the Jug Brown Center and improve upon it as we develop a We believe it will serve our community for another 60-plus years.”
Powell said he nor the city leaders will forget the bricks and mortar that laid the foundation for the future. In fact, they have plans for a place of honor in the new building to commemorate the Jug Brown Center.
Powell said several bricks had already been taken from the building as momentos for the Brown family and others. He and Mayor Cooper presented the bricks to Neal and Emily Brown, Tim and Cathy Brown, Edward and Stephanie Brown, Hillman and Christy Brown, Laurence and Kenney Brown. Justin and Dr. Caroline Brown Barnes, and Cody Brown.
Erin Grantham, director of the Enterprise Chamber of Commerce was the mistress of ceremonies, escorted everyone outside of the building as the ceremony ended.
“Today marks the final event that will happen in this center, and all of you here today will be the last guests under its roof and within its walls as we say goodbye,” Grantham said.
Cooper began the decommission once the guests gathered outside and the door was closed.
“Director Powell, have you and your staff prepared the center for closure?”
Powell answered, “Yes Sir! The building is secure and all recreational program will be operated from the Enterprise Civic Center until the new Center is constructed. Permission to lock the door, Sir?”
After Powell locked the door, Cooper held up the door key.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “We have officially closed the door and decommissioned the M.N. Jug Brown Center. May we say a fond farewell to this building with my assurance as the Mayor of Enterprise that the mission started here will continue for generations to come.”
Pictured below are, from left,
Enterprise Director of Community Services and Recreation Billy Powell, Cody Brown, Justin Barnes, Dr. Caroline Barnes, Kenney Brown, Stephanie Brown, Laurence Brown, Edward Brown, Hillman Brown, Cathy Brown, Tim Brown, Neal Brown and Mayor William E. Cooper. (Photo by Kay Kirkland)