New center open haven for youth
NEW CASTLE – Where in New Castle could you go to get a cup of Keurig coffee and have 15 different flavors to choose from, or learn to Zumba, or take a computer class?
Or perhaps young people would like some help with their homework or just want to hang out with friends in a safe, fun place to be.
J.C’s Depot would be the place to come, according to Pam Dudding who just opened the multigenerational facility in what once was known as Briz’s on Rt. 311 across from the Craig County Fair Grounds.
Dudding, who is the daughter of Betty Dudding, grew up in New Castle and is all too familiar with the limited number of things for the youth in Craig to do unless they are involved in sports.
She fondly recalls though the impact Rex Hale had on her life when she was young. “In the summer Rex would hold what he called summer school, and he would read to us and play games and just do fun things every day,” Dudding said.
To that effect Dudding has transformed what many people in the community once referred to as a beer joint into a place she hopes will be filled with joy, fun and laughter.
“Orchestrated by God,” as Dudding puts it, the old restaurant has been totally redone. As you enter, the lounge is homey and bright and the kitchen is spotless as is the entire building. The old tint has been removed from the windows and a sofa, rocking chair and a round glass table with chairs now occupy the space that once was used for booths.
There is also a café where customers can order from a limited menu or just enjoy whatever they want to drink, Dudding said.
For the most part she plans on serving things kids love like cheese sticks, pizza bites, hot pockets, chicken nuggets and corn dogs. On weekends and occasionally in the evenings she plans to offer something special. On Saturday mornings, there will be sausage gravy biscuits.
Other features that will draw the crowds are the game room with pinball machines and a pool table and the music room. The back part of the building which once was the dance hall is now the music room complete with stage.
“This room is going to be used for music,” Dudding said. The stage will still be the bandstand only now the music will come from various local groups, Christian bands and even karaoke. Wii games are also on the drawing board.
“I plan to have competitions when we get that system set up,” she explained.
The music room will also be used for classes and can be rented for private parties. To date, a Zumba exercise class is scheduled, also a computer class and a craft class.
“If you have a talent, come to me and we’ll set up a class in whatever you want to offer,” Dudding said.
The outside with all of the pots of flowers and a nice deck won’t go unused by any means. “We’ll definitely use the patio when weather permits,” she said, “and currently I am working on getting two really good horse shoe pits outside so we can have tournaments.”
The mission and vision of J.C’s Depot is to meet emotional, spiritual and physical needs of the people in the community in ways that are relevant to the ministry of Jesus Christ, Dudding indicated.
“We want to create an atmosphere of fun and laughter that Christ would be happy with, a place both teens and elders will feel welcome and will enjoy,” in Dudding’s words.
This is not the first ministry Dudding has launched. Two and a half years ago she founded Second Chance for Freedom which has recently been incorporated. This organization helps fund other ministries both here at home as well as in other countries. J.C’s Depot is under the umbrella of Second Chance. Dudding has an associate’s degree in Applied Sciences and a B.S. degree in theology.
The Depot hours vary at the moment. Right now, it is open Fridays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. in order to catch the after game crowd, and on Saturday it will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Mondays after school there will be a study hall, Dudding said.
Although the Depot is already open, a grand opening featuring an all-day open house with numerous activities will be held in October.
Check out the Community News section in The New Castle Record for updates on upcoming events. For more information, call 540 864-8100.