Letters: Center should reflect Jewel J. Newman’s legacy

On Jan. 1, 1973, Jewel J. Newman became the first councilman representing what was then known as Ward 2 in Baton Rouge. Forty years later, on January 3, 2013, I became the first woman to represent the same seat, currently known as District 2. In a change from more than 30 years ago when the community center was built, it is not just for Scotlandville residents. The center serves residents living in Baker, Alsen, Scotlandville, Beechwood, Brownsfield, and residents north of Hooper Road to the Comite River.

When I was a child, the community center had much involvement and participation from every segment of the community. Every weekend, the center was booked with weddings, parties and all sorts of group functions to anchor it to the community without partiality. With a staff of employees with more than 60 years in community center experience, it is hard to imagine how much the center services have diminished.

As a result of being elected to the District 2 Metro Council, I inherited oversight of the Jewel J. Newman Center. After six months, I began to implement policies and procedures based on recommendations stated in a very disturbing 2010 revenue audit concerning the revenue and liability of all the centers. All the other council members overseeing community centers (Chaneyville, Delmont, Gus Young, and Leo S. Butler) have implemented drastic changes to their district centers as they relate to operations and/or personnel. Unfortunately, no such reforms had been attempted at the Jewel J. Newman Community Center.

Several of my colleagues also hired a consultant to help them come up with a plan to ensure that their community center supports and meets the needs of the whole community, from the children to the elderly.

My goal is to ensure that the Jewel J. Newman Community Center is operating with a staff that is accountable to the people who understand that the center is not an extension of their home or business, ensure the center is functional and clean, work the 40 hours a week they are paid, deposit all incoming revenues, answer land line phones in the building, and update the center’s webpage with accurate information!

For many years, the name Jewel J. Newman has been connected to a great man known for having a clean record for the years he served in public office from 1972 to 1984. Mr. Newman was instrumental in helping Scotlandville with better railroads and establishing community centers in the late 1970s. I think it is a disgrace that now when people search “Jewel J. Newman,” it will result in photo images of people who are misinformed fighting for a cause that doesn’t exist. The entire Newman family deserves to have his legacy preserved without blemish.

Chauna Banks-Daniel, Councilwoman

EBR Metro-District 2

Baton Rouge