Aquatic center opens for business

The James A. Leach Aquatic & Recreation Center is open. (PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL)

RAEFORD — The James A. Leach Aquatic & Recreation Center finally opened for business Monday, May 1, 2023. The building is named in honor of Hoke County commissioner of over 20 years and board chairman, James A. Leach.

“This is a long time coming; I think James definitely deserves this building,” Hoke County Board of Education Chairwoman Rosa McAllister McRae said.

The new recreational facility is a 53,000-square-foot complex that contains basketball courts, a running track, several office spaces, and a pool area complete with diving boards and locker rooms.

“Some children, the reason that they love to go to school is because if they do good in school, then they get the opportunity to play basketball or are on the basketball team,” Hoke County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Allen Thomas said. “Whatever it takes to get them and keep them in school, we’ll do it.”

A way that Hoke County Parks and Recreation found to bring together a personalized complex is by selling bricks to individuals who would like their name or other meaningful wording outside of the new James A. Leach Aquatic & Recreation Center.

“Hoke County has been good to me, and for that reason, I try real hard to be good to you,” James Leach said.

The architectural minds behind the building are SfL+a Architects, a firm established in 1982. The firm specializes in energy-positive buildings and educational structures.

“The commissioners were determined that this had to be a quality building,” Robbie Ferris from SfL+a Architects said. “It had to be something people would look at and say “we want to be in Hoke County, and that’s one of the reasons why.”

Hoke County won approval to obtain $50 million in limited obligation bonds to build the aquatic center in 2021.

The facility will also serve as the county’s emergency services shelter, according to the Local Government Commission.

The James A. Leach Aquatic & Recreation Center is open. (PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL)