Create Buckhannon president CJ Rylands addresses the SYCC board at its Jan. 4 meeting. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

Create Buckhannon to explore grants that would fund new Stockert addition, Riverwalk extension

BUCKHANNON – The Stockert Youth & Community Center gave Create Buckhannon authorization to work with Downstream Strategies and look for grant money to build the new multipurpose gymnasium.

Create Buckhannon president CJ Rylands attended the Jan. 4 SYCC Board meeting to announce the group received a grant from the Just Transition Fund, which will enable them to hire professional grant writers to help obtain grant money for community projects.

“We applied for that, and we’ve been notified that we have received that grant of $22,000 and we have contracted Downstream Strategies out of Morgantown to submit a grant proposal to potentially multiple different funding sources in March or April,” Rylands said.

Create Buckhannon hopes to make the new multipurpose gymnasium a hub for the Riverwalk trail system, which city officials have long wanted to extend south to the Upshur County Trails system and eventually, the Sago and Hampton areas.

“We’ve contracted Downstream Strategies to write a grant for us that gives us an extension of the river trail system, access to the Buckhannon River with another canoe or kayak access point and the ADA-accessible fishing pier that we have shovel-ready right now,” Rylands said. “The community center could act as the hub of this trail center; it could be the trailhead. We have a lot of people working together, which is a positive thing, but the grant writers want all the agencies working together.”

Rylands said Create Buckhannon members have been brainstorming ways to make their proposal stronger, and one idea that emerged was making the new multipurpose building a certified emergency shelter.

“One of the key phrases was ‘what makes you a more resilient community?’ So, we thought, ‘how could this building make us more resilient? What does it take to be a certified emergency shelter?’” Rylands said. “I know in my other planning sessions over the years, that some places are qualified to a certain level, but they don’t have the bathroom facilities, so I don’t know what the federal qualification standards are for emergency shelters, but if we could incorporate that into this plan, somehow that might strengthen our possibilities of getting a lot of this paid for.”

Board member Tammy Samples asked Rylands what the board could do to help Create Buckhannon with this process.

“You’re already engaged with an architectural firm that can provide us with drawings and cost estimates to include in the grants, which puts to us a lot further ahead than other communities,” Rylands said. “It shows that we’ve been working on this for years and talking about it for years as a community, and we raised money, so we don’t need a handout, we need a helping hand.”

The board said they would investigate the requirements involved in becoming a certified emergency shelter and board member Sam Nolte made a motion to work with Create Buckhannon and Downstream Strategies to help get potential funding for the new building. The motion passed unanimously.

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