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Gift from Powerball winner jump-starts public recreation center

W. Randy Smith continues to play because he can see how much can be done in community

June 21, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Powerball jackpot winner W. Randy Smith attended the formal presentation of $1.5 million of his winnings Tuesday to the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board.
Herald-Mail file photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Powerball jackpot winner W. Randy Smith attended the formal presentation of $1.5 million of his winnings Tuesday to the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board with a shirt pocket creased by 15 lottery tickets.

Before taking part in the check-presentation ceremony, the former Berkeley County magistrate and sheriff purchased five tickets for each of the upcoming Powerball, Mega Millions and Hot Lotto game drawings.

"I continue to play because I see how much can be done (in the community) if you put it toward things that can be done," Smith said after the ceremony.

With Smith's latest gift, a public recreation center in southern Berkeley County will be built on the campus of Musselman High School.

"It's been on our radar for years," Parks & Recreation Board Executive Director R. Stephen "Steve" Catlett said of the project, which was jump-started with Smith's gift.

Catlett said without the money, the project would still be a decade or more away from becoming a reality, given the limited state and local funding available for recreation.

He said the projected 18,200 square-foot facility is now on track to be advertised for construction bids in August.

Barring a delay with the advertisement for bids or awarding of the contract, the facility could be completed next year, Catlett said.

Since winning a $79 million jackpot in August 2010, Smith, 64, has shared his good fortune for an array of community needs ranging from helping to pay for construction of a park pavilion to purchasing more than $1 million in vehicles and equipment for fire, police and ambulance agencies. Smith also has given Hospice of the Panhandle $500,000 to construct a new inpatient facility.

His latest gift was made via the W. Randy Smith Family Fund, which is held by the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation.

Smith contributed $5 million to launch the grant-making fund and then added another $900,000 in December, foundation Executive Director Amy Owen said after taking part in Tuesday's ceremony.

A lifelong Berkeley County resident, Smith is involved in grant-making decisions with the fund, which supports programs that benefit Berkeley County.

Smith said his young grandson's interest in basketball, but lack of a place to play near his home in southern Berkeley County, factored into his decision to support the recreation center project.

Smith added that he would like to hit the lottery again to help expand the yet-to-be built facility so it can be as large as the Berkeley 2000 Recreation Center in Martinsburg.

Smith said Tuesday that he still enjoys playing the lottery and joked that he looked into the rule books and found there was no limit on how much money one can have.

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