New and improved Sim Scott Community Center reopens in Columbus 2 years after being destroyed in EF-3 tornado

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Thursday, the Sim Scott Community Center officially reopened after it was destroyed during the 2019 tornado.

Columbus city leadership believes the new building has the potential to change the dynamic of Columbus’s Northside.

“It’s been a long time coming,” says Mayor Robert Smith. “But as the old saying goes, for every bad thing that happens, something good comes out of it.”

More than two years after the EF-3 tornado brought it to the ground, city leaders held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the brand new 9,000 square-foot facility.

“I can remember playing over here, learning how to swim over here,” says Ward 5 Councilman Stephen Jones. “So it gives me great pleasure for this center to be open and continue to be here for the people of Ward 5.”

The center features larger classrooms, including a computer room, two kitchens and a senior center.

“I think that they’ve already been getting calls about people wanting to rent it,” Jones said.

With the state-of-the-art community center and upgrades to playground equipment and water park, city leaders hope Sim Scott Park can return to being the central hub for the neighborhood.

“You have a place that they can play ball, you have two baseball fields here, so it will be a sense of a real community park,” Jones says.

The building’s senior center is named in honor of beloved local matriarch Sallie Gray, who was moved to tears when she saw her name on the wall.

“I can’t describe how it feels,” the 94-year-old woman said.

“Ms. Sallie Gray did a lot of quilting and sewing and donating to the people within the community that needed quilts,” Mayor Smith said.

The hope is that this building that now bears her name can also leave the same kind of legacy.

“I remember growing up and walking past her house,” Jones said. nd she’s always been a great pillar of the community.”

Construction of the center cost close to $900,000, which was all covered by storm insurance.

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