NEWTONNewton Memorial Hospital is once again adding to its repertory of services to better care for the health of area residents. Rain or shine, hot, cool or in-between, the groundbreaking for the Newton Memorial Hospital's new Charles L. Tice Heart Center for Diagnostic Services will take place today, Thursday, at 4 p.m. outside the building's main lobby area. The 15,000-square foot facility is slated as a cardiac diagnostic center. However, hospital officials expect that eventually the center to grow into a complete treatment facility for cardiovascular disease. According to hospital projections, some 10,000 in Sussex County and the surrounding communities suffer from some kind of heart disease. "It's a diagnostic center more than it is a heart center," explained Brian H. Grace, the hospital's director of marketing and public relations. "We are not doing open heart surgery. We are doing what they call low-risk catheterization. It's the beginning of more things to come with diagnostic heart ailments. We'll be able to do more down the road to keep people in the county." Tice, a former senior vice president and treasurer with Selective Insurance of Branchville, as well as a former Newton Memorial foundation board member, said his interest in the project came from his own personal heart ailments. "I started life out with rheumatic fever," explained Tice, 71, a Newton resident. "Since then, I've had five heart attacks, bypass surgery, valves replaced and an aorta rebuilt. So I thought I wanted to do something for Sussex County when I heard of this. "I hope with this new addition that the people in the community and in the surrounding areas will have better care, faster care. It's quite a trip to Morristown, especially for those with a heart condition. I just thought this would be a good cause to contribute to." Grace said the $7.4 million project would take "approximately one year. Expectations are from 12 to 18 months." Of the money raised for the project, Tice contributed $1.1 million and is expected to attend today's groundbreaking ceremony. The hospital representative also said invitations have been extended to political figures and other prominent people, and that a reception will follow indoors.