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Responsibilities for community center discussed by board, Connellsville

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By Rachel Basinger
Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, 6:56 a.m.

Members of the Connellsville Community Center Advisory Board held a special meeting Sunday afternoon to walk through the building, see what needs done to make rooms ready for occupants and to change meeting dates so the city's mayor can participate more often.

While no walk-through was done, meetings were set for the second and fourth Fridays of every month at 6 p.m.

Advisory Board Chairman Jim McIntire said he wants Mayor Charles Matthews or a council representative at each advisory board meeting, so they can discuss issues that can be approved immediately.

“We need help from city council — someone to be here at every meeting until we start moving along,” McIntire said. “We have a nucleus of a good board, but we need to continue to keep getting better and better.”

Councilman Gregory Ritch, chairman of the city's property committee, said he is the city's representative to the board.

“The mayor can't attend every meeting of every board in this city,” Ritch said.

Matthews said he didn't mind attending meetings, but he does have several other commitments.

“I can't run every single aspect of the city, and that's why we do have other council members and department heads,” he said.

Instead of the walk-through, a discussion was held, hoping to clear up constant confusion among advisory board members, city officials and the center.

Matthews explained why the advisory board was created.

“This board was created as an advisory board,” he said. “I don't want to take anything away from the other board, but because of what happened (the city terminated the lease from the former board), the city didn't want to turn the center back over to another entity and that's why we created the advisory board.

“Maybe I look at this board as one that would have brought more programs in,” Matthews added. “Maybe we should have created a Friends of the Community Center volunteer group instead.”

Karpiak said he must have misunderstood the job of the advisory board.

“I thought the board would be the promoters of this building,” he said. “At this point in time, I just want to see this board make money. If it doesn't go that direction, then maybe we have to go a different direction.

“I could care less about all of this stuff on procedures or when meetings are scheduled,” Karpiak added. “We have one heck of an opportunity with this building because it's very valuable. There's no reason we can't be making money.”

McIntire and Advisory Board Vice Chairman Gary Colatch said they are concerned about the lack of communication between the board and the city.

Colatch said the board was under the impression they could do nothing without council approval and asked if council ever took action on any of the ideas presented.

“I've told you before, that as long as it's legal and doesn't cost the city money, we will not interfere with this board,” Ritch said. “If it's something like hiring an individual or wanting to do some major improvement or something like that, those are the things that would take an act of council.”

The issue came up at the advisory board's previous meeting about hiring a promotions manager.

Colatch said Sunday that they had no intention of hiring anyone or even moving in that direction until it was approved by council. The suggestion was to name a promotions manager that did nothing but promote the building and schedule events in the theater, whether it be musicians, comedians, theatrical productions or anything else that would make the center money. The promotions manager would not make any money until an event happened, and then, would get a cut of the profits.

Matthews said he would rather not give away any profits.

He suggested that a councilperson, volunteer or advisory board member could book the entertainment, eliminating the need for a promotions manager.

As for a building manager, Matthews, Karpiak and Ritch all agreed Gary Barker was pretty much in that role, adding that he, with help from Lori Kosisko, already oversees center operations, promotions to would-be tenants and scheduling of events.

The next advisory board meeting will be held 6 p.m. Feb. 8.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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