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Boys and Girls Club seeks money from Jefferson County

February 27, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A spokeswoman for the Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson County asked the Jefferson County Commission Thursday for $60,000 in "emergency funding" to help reopen the club, which was temporarily closed earlier this month due to financial problems.

In addition to the $60,000, Boys and Girls Club officials also want the commissioners to give the organization $5,000 a month.

Boys and Girls Club officials are asking that the $5,000 come from a regular line item in the commissioners' budget.

Last month, officials with the club announced the organization would be shutting down beginning Feb. 2. The closing also shut down a satellite operation in Shannondale, W.Va.

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After dealing with rising debt, operating losses and high fixed costs, the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club decided they could no longer operate the center on North Lawrence Street.

Since then, the community has rallied to save the club.

The City of Ranson has offered to fund the club in an amount not to exceed $3,000 a month, said Pamela Holstein-Wallace, a member of the club's board of directors.

Also, a group of area developers has offered to give the club $17,000 a month for three months, said Richard Durham, also a member of the club's board of directors.

If the club gets the funding from the commissioners, the City of Ranson, and the developers, it would be enough money to reopen the club for six months, Holstein-Wallace said.

That would give the club time to study other ways of cutting costs and raising money, she said.

Holstein-Wallace said the local Boys and Girls Club is vital to the community because of the after-school programs it offers to children. Among the activities the club offers are teaching children health and life skills, and offering them art classes and fitness programs. About 40 to 50 children take part in the club's activities every afternoon, Holstein-Wallace said.

"Every day, the club is making a difference in the life of a child," Holstein-Wallace told the commissioners.

In addition to facing debt, operating losses and high fixed costs, many sources of funding for the Boys and Girls club have been drying up, club officials said. That is forcing the club to explore other sources of funding, Holstein-Wallace said.

Commissioner Rusty Morgan told Holstein-Wallace and Durham he believes a lot of people in the community are wondering how the club got into its tight financial situation.

Durham responded that he believed the club was not doing enough fund-raising.

Durham said he did not believe any malfeasance was involved.

The commissioners are in the beginning stages of the 2004-05 budget process and are hearing funding requests from a number of groups. Although some commissioners believe they will have about $12 million to dole out, they have already received $18.5 million in requests.

"We will sort through all our requests," said Commission President Al Hooper.

Besides the Boys and Girls Club, the commissioners also heard funding requests Thursday from library, transportation and crime victim's organizations.

Holstein-Wallace put out a plea to the community for financial help. Anyone who wants to help support the Boys and Girls Club can send donations to the club at 334 N. Lawrence St., Charles Town, WV 25414, Holstein-Wallace said.

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