The Place closes

Jackie Bailey hangs photographs of students from the past 16 years on the wall at The Place. She announced she is closing the youth recreation center.

Jackie Bailey is pulling the plug on her son’s Abilene High School senior project.

After 16 years, she is closing The Place, 421 N. Cedar.

The Place has always been closed in June, July and August. This year it just won’t open back up.

Bailey said her son wanted an alternative for kids cruising Buckeye Avenue or going to pasture parties. His family had bought the building in 2002 and they opened The Place in April 2003.

It was intended for middle school and high school students, Bailey said, one group upstairs and one group downstairs. These past few years, it’s been primarily middle schoolers, she said, as the high schoolers quit coming.

Now, fewer middle schoolers were coming, only 15 or 20 kids a session, and it’s been “kind of a struggle” for economic reasons, she said.

Students signed in and signed out. There was a $3 charge to get in.

She’s had some help over the years, but some of that has fallen off, too.

The Elks Club, for example, sponsored some nights so kids could come free.

The Kiwanis Club had been consistent in its support, she said.

The Rotary Club sent people every Friday for a while to cover the door or snack bar, she said.

Family members — her daughter and her sister — were among her regular volunteers.

Businesses or individuals sometimes donated drinks or snacks, she said, but it was sporadic.

“We do get donations, but they’re not consistent,” Bailey said.

The place is a registered not-for-profit, Bailey said, and she received one grant from the Community Foundation of Dickinson County to buy a pool table.

Bailey recruited seniors from the senior center to teach the kids how to play pool on Saturday mornings and offered “poolships.”

The pool tournaments they held are among her favorite memories, she said.

Bailey has many memories preserved in photographs which she has sorted by year. She said she hates to throw out photographs so she is offering them to the community.

She is inviting former students and the community to an open house from 5 to 9 p.m. every Saturday in September. If anyone finds a photograph with himself or herself in it, they get a “sweet treat” and are allowed to keep the photograph.

She’s also giving away the CDs, puzzles and games she’s collected to entertain the kids. The building is for sale.

“It’s been my passion for the past 16 years,” Bailey said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s still my passion.”

Contact Jean Bowers at reporter2@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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