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Former Shannock Valley High School makes way for youth center

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Larry Nelson and Ed Evans stand in the former Shannock Valley High School gym that the two are in process of transforming into a recreation center for children. September 30, 2013
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Demolition of the Shannock Valley High School in Rural Valley. Monday September 30, 2013

The majority of the former Shannock Valley High School in Rural Valley is coming down by the end of October to make way for the Shannock Valley Youth Center.

Developers Larry Nelson of Yatesboro and Ed Evans of Rural Valley began demolishing the former high school building on Monday, except for its gymnasium, which will be the central portion of the proposed youth center.

“It's a big job, but we just want to do something nice for the kids and community,” Nelson said. “Our third through sixth grade boys and girls basketball, at Dayton and Shannock Valley (elementary schools), had nowhere to play or practice and couldn't hold home games because their gymnasiums were too small.

“That's going to change.”

The gymnasium ceilings at Shannock Valley and Dayton elementary schools are not regulation height, making the buildings ineligible to host competitive basketball games, Nelson said.

Evans said he and Nelson purchased the building for $150,000 and paid an additional $5,000 for the property.

The building was built in 1954, and the gymnasium was constructed 20 years afterward, Evans said.

Unlike the rest of the building, which sat on a substructure of beams and piers, the gymnasium was built on a solid concrete slab, making its structure more stable and durable, Nelson added.

“The majority of the structure was in worse shape than people thought because the piers and beams had begun to shift,” Nelson said. “There were a lot of stress fractures in the floors and walls.”

Nelson said the pair spent $130,000 to remove asbestos from the 59-year-old building before beginning the demolition process.

The men plan to have the school building razed and the ground leveled and seeded before the end of the October. The majority of the lot will be open green space, while the gymnasium will remain standing in its current location, Evans said.

The pair plans to transform the boys and girls locker rooms into open rooms, which can be rented to host parties. Each room can hold about 45 people comfortably, Evans said.

They plan to build a pavilion behind the gymnasium, which will be available for rentals, he added.

On completion, Evans said, the Shannock Valley Youth Center would be run as a nonprofit organization and host several open-gym nights per week to allow children to play basketball and attend other youth-friendly events, such as movie nights.

Nelson said they are in discussion with the Armstrong School District to hold after-school practices for several sports at the facility.

“The gym at West Shamokin High School just has too many things going on, so it's overrun,” Nelson said.

They hope to have the gymnasium ready to host open-gym nights by mid-November.

When the demolition ends, Evans said he and Nelson hope volunteers will help them finish the project.

Anyone interested in volunteering can send a letter of interest with their contact information to the Shannock Valley Youth Center, PO Box 59, Rural Valley, PA, 16249.

“We're going to need help doing different things in the future,” Evans said. “We're open to all kinds of help.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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