How long has it been since there was a new structure at the Booneville Human Development Center? Actually, there has never been one.

The last construction project, save for a new roof or new heat and air systems or the like, was the building known as Judge Hill in 1964. That was nine years before the Arkansas Tuberculosis Sanatorium became one of the state’s human development centers.

For reference sake 1964 was the year Ford introduced the Mustang. It was the year the Civil Rights Act was passed. It was also the year that Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston to win the World Heavyweight championship and the first Star Trek pilot.

Five decades of not having to worry about a construction zone are coming to an end with the erection of a recreation center, for which a groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday.

The center, which will actually be a multiple purpose facility, will have a half court basketball floor, dressing facilities and a small office, BHDC superintendent Jeff Gonyea said last week. The 40-foot by 60-foot building, Gonyea said, is a "scaled down version" of a building on a master facilities plan drawn up for BHDC several years ago.

The center should be completed in two to three months, Gonyea said, just in time for cooler weather when clients are unable to utilize outdoor recreation areas.

"Of all the (HDCs) we have the most ambulatory population, and yet we had no gym," Gonyea said.

The building is expected to cost $350,000 Gonyea said, for which he said he hit up virtually everybody he knows in Little Rock.

Besides basketball the recreation center will have equipment for volleyball. The center will also have a backup generator making it available for use during non-storm power outages. Also included is a PA system that will make the building a host of movie events and the like.