BUCKHANNON – As the city of Buckhannon continues its quest to find funding for the Stockert Youth and Community Center’s gymnasium expansion project, the next stop is an elimination dinner slated for Friday evening.
Late last year, the city kicked off SYCC’s capital campaign after its executive director, Debora Brockleman, stressed the need to expand the facility to local officials.
Throughout the years, SYCC has been home to a variety of after-school activities for the community’s youth; however, with more than 12,000 hours of involvement per month, space has become limited.
With an aim to provide additional space for the participants at SYCC, Mayor David McCauley said the multi-use facility is sure to benefit the kids.
“It’s difficult to count on external gymnasium or auditorium space at WVWC or our school system. The little gym was built decades ago for elementary school-aged children,” he said. “The new multi-use facility will be suitable for kids and adults of all ages to gather for fun.”
And while the project is targeted toward the youth, McCauley believes the expansion will be a boon for the community’s many festivals and activities planned throughout the year.
“The new space will provide a gathering place for so many factions of our community — the adult sports leagues, a place to move outdoor activities to when there’s inclement weather such as Festival Fridays, walking space for seniors during bad weather or evenings, meeting and convention space for big crowds, classic car cruise-ins, the possible trailhead for our growing cyclist enthusiast population and the list goes on and on,” he said. “I truly believe that if we build it, they will come — due respects to ‘Field of Dreams’!”
Since the announcement of the campaign, city officials have hosted a range of fundraising events and private donations have been gifted toward the project. City grant writer Callie Cronin Sams has also been busy seeking grants that could lead to funding for the project.
And as the campaign reaches its 50 percent mark – as of city council’s Oct. 4 meeting, funds had exceeded $198,000 – it’s increasingly possible the city could receive assistance from outside grant funding.
“With many, if not most grants, there is a required match. Sometimes this can be fulfilled with in-kind labor, equipment, or services, but not always. The required match varies depending on the grant; however, a match of 20-50 percent is common,” Sams explained. “By reaching the $200,000 mark, we would have a significant amount available for this match, which may even be supplemented with in-kind services and equipment. This gives the City a stronger position in requesting grant funding.”
In June, Sams submitted a grant from West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection regarding the Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot, which could lead to full funding of the project.
However, the city is still waiting for a response from the DEP about the proposal.
The proposal requests funding for a three-phased extension to the Elizabeth J. “Binky” Poundstone Riverwalk Trail System as well as for SYCC’s expansion.
“The proposed multi-purpose space could serve as a central trailhead for the EJBPRT system, connecting downtown to North Buckhannon Park, West Main Street, Riverwalk Park, and if the extensions are funded, on to Tennerton, including stops at BUMS and BUHS, and Sago, as well as north to Pringle Tree Park and the public river access on the River Road just off Hall Road,” Sams explained.
Sams stressed she is always on the lookout for grant funding to benefit the multi-use facility.
“Whether or not the AML Pilot project funding comes through – and it very much still could, we just have not heard one way or the other yet – we feel we have a strong case for the Riverwalk extension and SYCC projects, and we will continue to pursue grant funding as it becomes available,” she said.
On Friday evening, community members will come together once again to raise additional funds for the project.
McCauley attributes several months’ worth of planning efforts and contributions to Amby Jenkins, CJ Rylands, Larry Carter and the entire SYCC Board.
“But especially Buddy Brady who performed yeoman’s work in selling tickets and raising funds,” he added.
The dinner will begin at 5 p.m. at the Event Center at Brushy Fork, where attendees will be treated to a meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans prepared by Rylands and his staff.
Prior to the auctions and elimination drawings, attendees will enjoy live music.
Brockleman said she believes there are four tickets remaining for the dinner. Those interested can contact SYCC at 304-473-0145 for more information.
With the campaign already close to meeting its halfway mark, Brockleman said she is “very happy.”
“It’s something that we’ve had in the back of everybody’s mind for several years now, but the past six months have been a real push for it because we’re at that critical point where we need the space,” she said. “Our programs have grown so much, and [with] the community involvement aspect, we’re out of space.
“It’s a good problem to have, and it’s a lot of people trying to make this happen, which I’m so pleased with … It’ll be good for the community and it’ll be great for the kids,” she added.