Local News

Story published: 02-25-2014 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

McKinney Center open for business

By Meghan McCoy
Staff Writer

The McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School’s main purpose may be programs and classes, but it’s beginning to play another role in the community as well.

Earlier this month, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a rental program which provides Director Theresa Hammons the authority to adjust fees and schedules for facility rentals for events such as weddings, dances and reunions when modifications are in the best interest of the center’s operation.

“We fall in between what the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center and the International Storytelling Center rates are,” Hammons said. “I think it’s a good, affordable option for people.”

She said the McKinney Center has great auditorium space that can be used for dances, weddings, class reunions and family dinners. It also has three smaller classrooms that can be used for such events as baby showers.

In the past, the Jonesborough Police Department and Fire Department have used the space for training. Hammons said they have also received interest from local schools to host their dances at the center.

“One of the great things is that the Visitors Center and International Storytelling Center have been really good promoters,” Hammons said.

Since many people know about the other two centers, the calendars fill fast. “So they are referred to us,” Hammons said.

Several rental options are available at the center for the community.

Government agencies and community organizations will be charged basic opening and operating costs. A $15-an-hour staffing fee will be charged for events outside of regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. A staffing fee will not be charged during business hours.

The pricing applies to Washington County; The Heritage Alliance; Jonesborough Repertory Theatre; Jonesborough Yarn Exchange; Jonesborough Storytelling Guild; Music on the Square; Fine Arts in the Park; Jonesborough Area Merchants and Service Association; Jonesborough Farmers Market; and the Tuesday Garden and Schubert clubs.

Other organizations are subject to review upon request.

The facility rental fees for nonprofit meetings and conferences offer daily, half-day, hourly, evening and weekend and holiday rentals.

The daily rental, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. is $300 for the auditorium or the grounds and $75 for the classrooms. The five-hour half-day rental is $150 for the auditorium or the grounds and $40 for the classrooms. Hourly rental, available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. is $20 an hour for the classrooms.

Evening rentals, from 5-11 p.m., are $400 for the auditorium or the grounds or $125 for the classrooms. The weekend and holiday rental rates are $65 an hour for the auditorium or the grounds and $20 an hour for the classroom.

“Folks that do the public good should certainly benefit from it,” Mayor Kelly Wolfe said. “That’s what we should be doing, encourage community use of the building.”

Facility rental fees for regular (not nonprofit) meetings and conferences also include daily, half-day, hourly, evening, weekend and holiday rentals.

The daily rental, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. is $450 for the auditorium or grounds and $150 for classrooms; the five-hour half-day rental is $225 for the auditorium or grounds and $75 for classrooms; $20 an hour for hourly rental between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; $600 for auditorium or grounds and $200 for classroom evening rentals between 5 and 11 p.m.; and weekend and holiday rentals are $100 an hour for the auditorium or grounds and $30 for the classrooms.

The rental policy for the McKinney Center also includes pricing for wedding and wedding receptions. It is $750 to use the auditorium or grounds; $30 an hour to rent the classroom; $50 for the classroom in addition to the auditorium or grounds and $250 for the grounds in addition to the auditorium.

In order to rent the space, a $200 refundable damage deposit is required.

Alderman Chuck Vest said in the future they might have to increase the cost for weddings.

“Seven hundred and fifty dollars is a good deal,” he said. “They should jump on it while they can.”

Hammons encourages those interested in renting the center to call and make an appointment to see the space. She said they want to make sure they give those interested the best possible tour and experience, as well as time to sit down and talk about the event.

Individuals are also encouraged to make their reservations for the space at least a month in advance.

“We will do our best to work out whatever we can with people,” she says.

Town Administrator Bob Browning said when opening a facility it is hard to project what kind of demand it will receive, therefore making it difficult to determine how much money the rental program will generate. He said the center will most likely have low revenue generation.

“The purpose is more oriented towards the programs being run,” Browning said of the Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts. “We have to run the right kind of balance between how we rent the facility and how it interplays with the programs that are running out of it.”

Those programs include an assortment of classes for youngsters 3 years of age and older.

Hammons said through a partnership with the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre, they also have two adult tap dance classes and a musical theater class.

Other classes include Art Adventure for kindergarten to 2nd-grade students, and Creative Construction for 3rd-to- 6th-grade students and Little Picasso, and more.

Hammons said most of the classes are offered for 12-week periods, which conclude at the end of April.

“We follow sort of a semester school year rotation,” she explained. “Most of the programs are after school programs.”

Right now, the center is preparing for summer.

“We are getting ready to put out a description for our summer camp program, weekend workshops and day workshops,” Hammons said.