Summit shifts focus to youth, families

Morgan County Summit plans for a community center

Morgan County Summit plans for a community center

October 26, 2005|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Rain and sometimes wet snow Tuesday did not deter more than 100 people from participating in the Morgan County Summit at Cacapon State Park.

The summit focused on the creation of a community recreation center and is part of America's Promise 1997 national campaign in which communities agreed to provide five promises to youth. The theme of Tuesday's summit was "Keeping America's Promise to Morgan County Youth and Families."

Audrey Morris, one of the summit sponsors from Morgan County Active Afterschool, said four of the top five recommendations from the 1998 Morgan County Summit of providing "out of school time transportation, coordinated communications, increased child care/safe places for young people and increased opportunities for youth to serve" have been carried out, but creating a community recreation center had not.


"I am excited that we have finally come together," Morris said.

Three groups of about 30 people each that included adults and students from Warm Springs Middle School and Berkeley Springs High School explored the "why, how, who, what and where" for a community recreation center.

Larry Lower, the summit's general facilitator, said the "why" group was called the dreamers; the "who and what" group the organizers; and the "where and how" group the planners.

Each group discussed the topic suggestions, then voted for the top five. Presentations were made to the rest of the summit participants after a lunch break.

The suggestions ranged from how the community will benefit from a facility serving youths and adults, to using the old hospital after the new hospital is built, to creating an administration board consisting of town and county officials.

Rachael Blomberg, a seventh-grader at Warm Springs Middle School, presented the organizer group's choice of the facility name and picked members from the audience while saying, "come with me to the Morgan County Community Center," and had them join her in the presentation area.

"Everyone is welcome," she said.

Del. Charles S. Trump IV, R-Morgan, who was in the organizer group, said "I don't think it's beyond the reach of this community to believe this vision can be realized. When the citizens of Morgan County get solidly behind something, it can happen," Trump said.

He said "local, state and federal funds will have to be utilized to build this community center."

First lady Gayle Manchin, a past executive director of West Virginia's Promise, spoke to the participants in the afternoon after arriving late due to bad weather.

"This summit is a good example of working together," she said. "You are here today gaining wisdom and learning how to address problems of the whole community."

Luke Christie, who serves on the boards of Morgan County Schools, Parks and Recreation and the Boys & Girls Club, was in the dreamer group. He said a community center would "provide an environment for young people and adults to interact positively."

Emily Leighty, a Berkeley Springs High School senior, also was a member of the dreamer group. She said "a recreation facility is important for the youth and adults to address both mental and physical health."

Manchin said the governor said "if West Virginia is addressing the five promises, West Virginia will be on the right track."

Town of Bath Mayor Susan Webster said the consensus of about 30 adults at the end of the summit was that Morgan County Parks and Recreation will establish a committee to further investigate the matter.

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