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Ground broken for YMCA

June 14, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

Ground was broken Wednesday for a new YMCA that will be named for an aviator and philanthropist with ties to Washington County.

The YMCA being built on Eastern Boulevard will be called the Richard A. Henson Family YMCA, according to an announcement made at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The name is being changed from the Hagerstown YMCA to thank Richard Henson for a $1 million donation to the YMCA's fund-raising campaign for the project, YMCA President Paula Lampton said.

Henson, who lives in Salisbury, Md., and was unable to attend the event, announced the donation about two years ago, she said.

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Henson said at the time that being a member of the Hi-Y Club at the Hagerstown YMCA building on North Potomac Street was a good influence on him during his teenage years.

The groundbreaking was held Wednesday because it was Flag Day and the YMCA is part of the country's history, Lampton said.

Wednesday's groundbreaking was one of the most historic days in the local YMCA's history, Executive Director Michael Flicek said.

Callas Contractors will start work on the YMCA within the next week. Construction is expected to take 12 to 15 months, Lampton said.

Signs at the site said the YMCA would open in fall 2001, but it could open sooner if the weather is good, she said.

Sen. Don Munson, R-Washington, presented Lampton with a proclamation from the Maryland General Assembly congratulating the YMCA on breaking ground.

The state donated $250,000 to the building fund this year and $500,000 last year.

The new YMCA will cost about $8.8 million and about $5.4 million has been raised so far, Flicek said after the event.

Flicek said ground was broken for the existing YMCA at 149 N. Potomac St. in 1919.

The new, larger YMCA will allow the organization to offer more services for children, the elderly and the disabled, Lampton said. There will be green space that can be used for day camps, she said.

The new YMCA will have two pools, two gymnasiums, a fitness center, a child-care center, meeting rooms, teen and senior facilities, five locker rooms, administrative offices and two outdoor soccer fields.

Henson is a Hagerstown native for whom Hagerstown Regional Airport-Richard A. Henson Field is named.

He started and operated Henson Flying Service at the airport in 1931 and Henson Aviation Inc., a commuter airline, in 1962. He was a test pilot for Fairchild Aircraft from 1931 until 1964.

Henson has remained involved in community affairs even though he moved to Salisbury in 1980.

He set up the Richard A. Henson Foundation Inc. in Salisbury in 1990. His other large donations include $250,000 to the Mason-Dixon Council, Boy Scouts of America.

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