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Former dump finds new life as Salvation Army community center

October 14, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Members of the Salvation Army sing a song of praise during the dedication ceremony of the new Shifler Family Community Center on George Street in Hagerstown on Sunday.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

Today, it is the site of a new facility for The Salvation Army, but it used to be a dump.

When crews started digging at the site for the new Shifler Family Community Center on George Street, they found the remains of a dump, said Maj. Robert D. Lyle, who runs the center with his wife, Karen.

During a dedication of the center Sunday afternoon, Lyle said he told crews digging at the site that unless there were some Indian graves or some evidence connected to Al Capone, they were not to say anything about the dump.

During Sunday’s ceremony, Lyle held up some bottles he collected from the dump site, some of which have “Hagerstown” written on them.

Lyle talked about how the site is going to pave the way for new lives.

“It’s going to change lives for little Jimmy who lives across the street,” said Lyles, who said the center includes a new basketball gym, a game room and a computer lab that accommodates up to 16 stations.

“Out from the ashes and up from the dump will come someone who will change the world with the glory of God,” Lyle told about 160 people at a ceremony inside the new gym.

The center is designed to give children in the West Franklin Street area a safe place to play and spend time together, and center officials will show children how the center’s services are provided through the grace of God, officials said Sunday.

David Jeffrey, a territorial commander of The Salvation Army, said 17 percent of children in the United States are living in poverty. The situation leads to problems like unsafe housing, abuse and neglect, he said.

Children subjected to that kind of existence can fall victim to other problems later in life like gang membership and teenage pregnancy, Jeffrey said.

“We are determined to break this cycle of despair,” Jeffrey said.

A playground used to be situated at the site of the center and Lyle said after he came to the area in 2006, he saw children on the playground one winter day trying to chip enough ice off it to play basketball.

That’s when he started thinking about a new gym, which had been considered for more than 30 years.

A campaign was started and $1.62 million was raised for the center, Lyle said.

Guests sat in a bright, clean, red and white gym Sunday. The facility also includes administrative offices for the staff.

The Salvation Army’s operations used to be in a nearby house on West Franklin Street, which now will be used for a shelter the organization will run, Lyle said. The house will be expanded from a 28-bed shelter to one with 42 beds, he said.

The center is named after James Shifler, who gave a sizable gift for the project, officials said. Shifler then raised another $110,000 for the center, officials said.

Among other donations, Lyle said Ellsworth Electric donated all the electrical service and electrical labor; M.S. Johnston donated all the heating and air conditioning equipment and related labor; Dynamark Advantage Security donated a security system; and Budget Blinds donated blinds for the center.

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