By Jeremie Samuel
The ribbon was cut on Friday, August 10, at the new Wedgewood Community Center in honor of Escambia County Commissioner – Marie Young. Young, who was appointed to the commission in 2002 by then Florida Governor Jeb Bush, said she was honored and humbled that the new community center will bare her name.
“Well I think it’s an honor, to have someone to feel that you’re worthy to even place your name on a building,” Young said. “I am humbled by the desire for this to happen.”
Before joining the Escambia County Commission, Young served five and a half years as a Pensacola city councilwoman. After her first term as a county commissioner, Young won both the 2004 and 2008 elections as an incumbent for the same position from which she will retire after this year. Young stated that she is pleased about what the building will provide for the community.
“The community has really come together to make certain decisions about the use of the building and certainly I agree it that it [should be utilized] to improve the quality of life for the people in our community.” Young said. “It is designed with various rooms to provide space for various program. They’re people who will be tutoring children after school, there will be people who will be doing exercise routines and we do have an exercise room there.”
Young, who retired from teaching in 1994, is a former school principal and district administrator for Escambia County.
“There is such a need for after school programs for our children,” Young said. “There are some children who may not need to go home right away that could be a good stopping point until parents get off of work,” Young said. “However, we’re not saying that it should be used for that but it’s a good place – a safe place – where you could meet somebody there to help your children with various learning deficits they may have.”
Michelle Boykin, a former student of the councilwoman when she taught at Spencer Bibbs Elementary, said Young stressed the importance of education to her students and was a strict but fair disciplinarian.
“I learned a lot from her in her class and she stressed education,” Boykin said. Boykin also stated that Young highly stressed the importance of a higher education.
“She’s a get it done type of person,” Boykin continued. “If it needs to be done she will get it done. You might not like how she goes about it but it will be done and done right. She always was dressed well, she always looked good. She is straight and to the point,” said Boykin.
The community center is approximately 13,000 square feet and houses a full basketball court, meeting rooms, fitness rooms, community operated computer/library room, media and game rooms along with a kitchen with a large pantry. The park has all new playground equipment, a basketball court with bleachers, a 3200 square foot open pavilion with grills and outdoor fitness equipment.
Construction was funded from a local option sales tax at the cost of $2.3 million.
Marie Young says she will maintain some of the activities that she’s currently engaged in after retirement like staying active with the Area Housing Board and the Community Action Board.