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Martinsburg recreation center gets big donation

February 08, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Quad/Graphics, Berkeley County's largest private employer, has donated $500,000 to help the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board more than double the size of the Berkeley 2000 Recreation Center in Martinsburg.

"We can't thank you enough for this contribution today," Parks & Recreation Board executive director R. Stephen Catlett told Martinsburg plant manager Pam Rostagno and about 35 employees who joined her Wednesday at a press conference for the official announcement. "We will be displaying this (oversized) check at the rec center for the next several months, I can assure you."

Channeled through The Windhover Foundation, the Sussex, Wis.-based company's philanthropic arm, the Quad/Graphics gift will pay for the cost of a second gymnasium at the Woodbury Avenue recreation center in Lambert Park and allow work to move forward on a multi-purpose addition to feature racquetball courts and fitness equipment, Catlett said.

The Quad/Graphics Gymnasium and a 12,600-square-foot addition for gymnastics programs are hoped to be completed by September as part of a $1.25 million contract awarded to Martinsburg-based W. Harley Miller Contractors Inc., Catlett said. That money was allocated by the City of Martinsburg ($750,000) and the Berkeley County Commission ($500,000).

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"We're just champing at the bit to get in here and start using these wings," Catlett said.

Thanks to the Quad/Graphics gift, the 5,400-square-foot multi-purpose addition can be either added onto W. Harley Miller's contract or readvertised to contractors, Catlett said. That decision is expected to be made later this month, he said.

All three additions amount to 26,750 square feet, more than doubling the center's current size (16,800).

Aside from the phased building expansion, Catlett said the Parks & Recreation Board still needs at least another $250,000 to $300,000 to build 175 additional parking spaces and a second entrance to the facility from Athletic Street.

Catlett said he plans to seek local business support to purchase equipment for the expanded facilities, similar to the more than $100,000 he said was raised for the existing facility.

After making the announcement, Rostagno noted that she and her husband's two children use the recreation center, where she often has run into other "Quad" families.

Rostagno said her children's adjustment to life in West Virginia after relocating in August 2005 from her native Wisconsin was made easier by the center's programs.

"I'm liking the milder winters," said Rostagno, who manages the company's plant at 855 Caperton Blvd. off W.Va. 9, where "just under" 1,000 people are employed.

Rostagno revealed that Catlett literally slumped over in his chair when she told him Dec. 20 that the company decided to make the $500,000 donation.

Jan Hancock, the board's former finance officer, said she had submitted an application to the Foundation several months earlier and Catlett admitted Wednesday he began to wonder what became of the request.

"I was shocked when I heard it was $500,000," Hancock said Wednesday before the press conference began.

Longtime board member Frank Grimes said fellow board members were "tickled to death" when Catlett quietly shared the news with them last month.

"This was our salvation," Grimes said. "We're going to have to beg, borrow and steal to get more" for the project.

Martinsburg City Councilman Max Parkinson said the donation helps the city continue to keep up with the recreational needs of a growing community.

"Everybody that has children now wants to know what kind of recreation you have to offer. It seems now more important than it's ever been," said Parkinson, a Realtor for 29 years.

"Hopefully, when these projects are done, the next project will be an (indoor pool for Lambert Park) which is much needed in the area," Parkinson said.

Though the Recreation Center is in the center of the county, Catlett separately noted he would like to move forward on having facilities in the north and south ends of the county as well as an indoor aquatic facility.

"They want things in their own backyard so to speak," Catlett said.

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