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Buckhannon youth center seeking new director, hoping to expand

by James Fisher

STAFF WRITER

The 4-year-old Stockert Youth Center in Buckhannon is looking for a new director to take it -- and the youth it serves -- into the new millennium.

The center has been without a full-time, permanent replacement for Chris George since the fall when he left the center, said interim director Amy Hall.

"We're trying to expand our services and do a little more," she said. "That's one reason why we need a good solid director. The center is something that is very important to the youth of Upshur County, and we've gotten a lot of community support. We want to find someone to help us build up the program."

Applications and resumés are being accepted at the Upshur County Commission offices until March 31, Hall said. Upshur County commissioners hope to have a new director in place, or at least a solid timetable, by the beginning of May, said County Administrator Willie Parker.

The youth center is the result of a $500,000 bequest to the county by the late Joyce Stockert, Parker said. When the board of education closed the East Main Street School, the building was essentially donated to the county for the center's use, he said. County officials have applied for a $500,000 Small Cities Block Grant to add to the bequest for renovations and upgrades to the building and facilities.

While the center's staff is very active and committed to the programs currently in place, Parker said, county officials hope that the new director will be able to institute even more activities.

"In the past, we've been able to have open gym nights and we've worked with (West Virginia) Wesleyan (College) in having movie nights," he said. "Once we get a full-time director, hopefully we can go back to having some things like that. We need someone in there who will be able to grow the programs."

"We've had a couple of directors, which can make things difficult because they will get some programs up and running and then move on to other opportunities," Parker said.

Community support of the center has been tremendous over the years, Parker said, and soon may get even better.

Buckhannon residents will be receiving authorization forms this week allowing them to make monthly contributions directly to the center with their utility payments.

"I thought it would be a good way to give money to the center," said Buckhannon Mayor Elizabeth Poundstone. "It's strictly voluntary and residents can put down any amount they wish to be given to the center. This (the youth center) is something that is very important to the youth of the county.

"Any time you can provide anything for the youth, it's a good move," she said. "They just provide so many different things that it's really nice for the youth of Upshur County."

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