PAL center hopes to make police and Gulfport children better pals

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport leaders believe a new police athletic league center will keep Gaston point children off the streets, and away from trouble.  On Friday, the police department hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on property where trouble once lurked.

The children who grow up in Gaston Point have choices.  They could give into the temptation of guns and drugs that police officers fight everyday.

Adrielle Brown is a Gaston Point Elementary School student who's knows what crime can lead to.  "They lead to the wrong path," the 11 year old said.  Brown' said her preferred path is to become a community leader, "because then you know you're somewhere near the top."

David Shoemake thinks a new Gulfport Police Athletic League Center will provide the choices that create productive children who enhance Gaston Point.  "I want to provide them with the tools to make a choice," the president of PAL said.  "We're just so excited about this center and the ability to bring kids in and give them an alternative to what they're getting in the streets."

The center will be built on Old Pass Road, next a Kaboom playground.  Just a couple of years ago, Chief Alan Weatherford said this was not a very safe area for children.  "There was a lounge located that just plagued this community for years and years and years," he said.

The lounge owner sold his land to Gulfport.  The police department tore down the nuisance building, and vowed to replace it with a complex that brings the best out of Gulfport children.  "It just doesn't take parents to raise a child today," the chief said.  "It takes a community to do that.  And that's exactly what this is intended to do."

Gulfport children will get to play, and learn inside the police athletic league center when it opens in Gaston Point in early 2010.

The Bush Clinton Katrina Fund donated $900,000 to help pay for the Gulfport Police Athletic League building.

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