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Youngwood sells items from 1999 centennial

| Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Youngwood officials are getting ready for the upcoming move to the new borough building. They are hoping to move as little as possible. There is still some memorabilia left over from the 1999 Centennial Celebration and it's now on sale at reduced prices. submitted

The former Youngwood High School building soon will be just a memory, with construction slated to begin Monday on the foundation of the new borough building.

The old school, which was dedicated in 1919 and eventually repurposed into the borough building, will be replaced by a new municipal center in a project estimated at $2.25 million.

But the former school will not be forgotten, since the image of the iconic building is emblazoned on numerous discounted items still waiting to be sold from Youngwood's 1999 Centennial Celebration.

“Only the shirts are in limited numbers,” said Diane Derco, the borough secretary. “We sold a lot of the items people bought for Christmas gifts. I certainly hope we don't have to move everything into the new building.”

Council opted to build a new building after Brian Hayes, an architect/project manager with L.R. Kimball, reported that a partial renovation would cost $2.5 million.

Councilwoman Mary Ann Klingensmith was in the high school's last graduating class of 76 students in 1956.

“It was a wonderful school, and you knew everyone ahead of you and everyone behind you,” said Klingensmith, who is a member of the Youngwood Area Revitalization Development group, or YARD.

Four YARD members graduated from the school. “There was a teacher for every homeroom and for every class,” she said. “If you took typing, then all the students from your grade were there in one class.”

YARD is selling Cat's Meow replicas of the high school, with the building's history on the back, for $16. Proceeds will go toward a new playground planned after demolition.

“I've had a lot of orders where people would give $20 and have the extra go toward the playground,” Klingensmith said. “Every dollar makes a difference.”

Commemorative throws from the centennial now cost $20.

Available for $5 each are collector steins, plates, a Youngwood Centennial History book or a large polo shirt — all with the building logo.

A coffee mug is $2. Medium and large tank tops are $3 each. The 22-ounce thermo mug is $2. The Christmas ornament is $5.

There are also visors, notecards, cookbooks and postcards.

People can stop in the borough office at 17 S. Sixth St. between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays.

The list of available items is printed in the latest Youngwood Community Newsletter.

Barbara Ciampini, the former president of the Youngwood High School Restoration Committee, issued a statement after being contacted about the sale of the centennial items.

“I really don't have anything to say about the memorabilia, my heart is broken that the true essence of Youngwood, the heart of the borough; the former Youngwood High School is soon to be no more,” she said.

The nonprofit group worked from 1984 to 2011 to save the building from demolition.

Ciampini got involved because her father, John “Jack” Ciampini Jr., went to school there.

Officials began discussing the building's future when the restoration committee disbanded and it no longer paid $30,000 a year toward its costs.

“Our committee did our part to restore this landmark and we gave it to the citizens of Youngwood to continue to pay it homage. Why is it that our historic buildings aren't given the significance that other countries give their historic landmarks? Why aren't the citizens of Youngwood asking questions about this highly visible project?” Ciampini said in the statement.

“The beautiful oak trees are already gone, the playground that many of us grew up on, including the basketball court, is also gone and in the near future the historic Youngwood High School will only be a memory. It breaks my heart that my hometown isn't interested in saving this landmark.”

Hayes told officials the borough is using 10 percent of the space in the 40,000-square-foot building. Other groups, including the library, used space, but 70 percent of the building is vacant. The second-floor is not used because the floors are bowed and there is no elevator available for handicapped accessibility.

Heating and cooling in the building is inadequate, leaving part of the building steaming hot and another cold, Hayes said. Employees are relying on space heaters to get through the winter, as the boiler in the building is in need of repairs.

He told officials asbestos removal would add to any renovation costs.

Rose Domenick is a freelance writer.

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