BUCKHANNON – Approximately seven years after city officials revived a languishing capital campaign to raise funds for a gymnasium-multipurpose addition to the Stockert Youth and Community Center, Buckhannon City Council on Thursday voted unanimously to bid out the project.
According to previous stories, attendees of a special joint meeting Monday, Oct. 2, between city council, the SYCC Board and the city’s Building Commission agreed to cap the amount the city would borrow to finance the project at $4 million.
At the Monday meeting, the Building Commission recommended that council take action Thurday;s meeting to authorize soliciting bids for contractors once the city receives its letter of conditions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the loaning entity. At that meeting, council members made it clear they would also utilize the funds in the capital campaign fund, which has a balance of $443,000, including one outstanding $12,000 pledge.
At council’s Oct. 5 meeting, council took up an item on the agenda listed as “discussion/possible action” regarding the proposed SYCC building project. Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner laid out what had transpired Monday.
“If you’ll recall from Monday night, we had a joint meeting of the council, the Stockert Board and the City of Buckhannon Building Commission,” Skinner said. “The building commission took action to recommend to city council that, based on the reception of the letter of conditions from the USDA, that we would go out to bed for the project.”
“Are you [council members] prepared to accept the recommendation of the Building Commission on the same action upon receipt of the letter of conditions from the USDA that we would go out to bid for the project?” he asked.
Council member Pam Bucklew, who participated by phone, immediately responded, “Yes, I am. I think we need to bid it out.”
Council member David McCauley concurred, saying, “Mr. Skinner, it would be my great privilege and pleasure to make the motion that we bid this project out as you indicated.”
The motion was seconded by Bucklew prior to passing unanimously.
In his closing remarks, council member CJ Rylands highlighted the many years of behind-the-scenes groundwork laid for the Oct. 21 grand opening of the Colonial Arts Center and the bidding out of the Stockert addition.
“I think there are a lot of positive things going on, but there has been a lot of work behind the scenes for the last 15 to 20 years to get things moving like they are right now,” Rylands said. “To a certain degree, I don’t want to micromanage, and I don’t want to get in the way of success – just move over and let things keep going, and we have another opportunity with another project potentially with the county, and it’s all great.”
Rylands also said the SYCC Board needs to devise a plan for how, when and who can use the addition when it’s complete.
A longtime advocate of the SYCC, Dr. Robert Rupp, attended the meeting to commend council on reaching the long-awaited milestone.
“When Stockert closed as an elementary school, people were going to board it up – and I’ve counted many boarded-up buildings in West Virginia – but we didn’t do it,” Rupp said. “So, thanks to Mrs. Stockert, we made an institution, so on behalf of [the Stockert Youth & Community Center], I just want to thank council for all their support through this.”
“We not only have physical evidence of our commitment to our kids and our community, we’re going to enlarge that [commitment] with your agreement,” he added. “History is going to be made; it’s already been made once, and it’s finally going to be made again. The thing that kept everyone going was the focus on the kids in the community, and that’s what makes a small town like this so successful when they work as a team together, so again, thank you.”
In other city news, council tabled a request from Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School for a high tunnel due to having insufficient information, with Skinner saying the request had been referred to the Revenue & Expenditures Review Committee.