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Officials try to close funding gap on W. Randy Smith Recreation Center

Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board seeking public and private funds for project

August 21, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • This is an architect's drawing of the W. Randy Smith Recreation Center planned in Inwood, W.Va., near the Musselman High School complex.
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Construction of the W. Randy Smith Recreation Center is under way, but public recreation officials are struggling to close a gap in funding that still is needed for the $2.1 million project.

R. Stephen “Steve” Catlett, executive director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board, told board members Tuesday that he still hopes to net additional private and state funding to close the gap, which has grown a bit larger because of change orders.

“I don’t know if anybody understands how tight this (project) budget is,” Catlett said at the board’s regular meeting.

Martinsburg-based W. Harley Miller Contractors Inc. was awarded the project in April after submitting a $2.159 million bid to build the 18,200-square-foot facility on the Musselman High School campus.

Two contributions totaling $2.1 million by Smith, a Powerball jackpot winner and former Berkeley County sheriff, allowed the project to move forward this spring, but finding the remaining $59,000 has been difficult, Catlett said.

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The planned sale of a dozen permanent advertising signs for the new facility has gone slowly, with only four sold, Catlett said. 

Signs are available for $5,000 each, and would be on display for the life of the building, Catlett said.

While aware that finances are tight in the business community due to the economy, Catlett said after the meeting that he didn’t think the parks and recreation board would have any trouble selling the signs.

To help offset some of the change orders already received, Catlett told board members Tuesday that $28,000 the Berkeley County Council has allocated for park system capital improvements could be used, but he expects there will be more changes as the project progresses.

Change orders already have been received for the facility’s security system and a water tap fee, Catlett said.

The state previously committed $75,000 for the project’s design and planning costs, but Catlett said he still hopes to net additional funding through the assistance of state lawmakers and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Contractors currently are awaiting the delivery of steel for the project, but Catlett said concrete has been poured and utilities are in place for what will be the county’s second public recreation facility.

When completed, the facility is expected to house two gymnasiums, and includes areas for restrooms, concessions, staff and storage.

Another honor for Smith

Catlett also told board members Tuesday that Smith is to be honored Sept. 13 at Musselman High School for his contributions to the project, as well as his other gifts to the community since winning a $79 million Powerball jackpot in 2010.

Smith, who was serving as a Berkeley County magistrate when he won the lottery, will be recognized as a “Hometown Hero” for 2012 by members of Modern Woodmen of America at a ceremony in the school auditorium.

Members of the fraternal benefit society’s Chapter 6118 of Martinsburg are expected to present Smith with an award certificate and $100 grant that Smith can give to a charitable organization of his choice.

“We are happy to honor a real local hero, a person who won the lottery in 2010, but didn’t allow his newfound fortune to dim his view of community service and helping others,” Lynn Bibbee, Modern Woodmen chapter activities coordinator, said in a news release announcing the honor. “Instead, it made those views even stronger.”

Smith was nominated for the honor by Berkeley County Circuit Clerk Virginia Sine, according to the release.

The organization invited people who have been touched by Smith’s generosity, as well as local Modern Woodmen members and their guests, to attend the presentation.

Founded in 1883, Modern Woodmen of America offers financial services and fraternal member benefits to individuals and families throughout the United States, according to the release.

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