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Group won't give up on center

| Thursday, July 8, 2004

Clairton Community Council Inc. is continuing its efforts to convert the old Italian Club on Waddell Avenue into a community center, despite missing a deadline last month to buy the vacant two-story building.

"Clairton doesn't have any community centers anymore and we need something for youth and seniors," said Bertha Williams, president of the local organization.

The group missed a June 1 deadline to purchase the building at 310 Waddell Ave. for $17,500, but was able to raise a $1,400 down payment. The council has been trying to buy the building since November from Joy and Charlie Wade, of Clairton.

"We thought if we bought the building right out we won't have to worry about mortgage payments, because the building is in need of some repairs," Williams explained.

She said the organization is now looking to partner with another nonprofit to help raise funds for the project and has also reached out to the business community.

"We started sending out letters to Clairton businesses to ask them for help," Williams said. "We thought we would incorporate all Clairtonians."

The building includes two bathrooms on each floor, a balcony and a kitchen.

Williams said the council hopes to turn the building into a facility to serve both children and senior citizens of the community. She envisions a place for children to come after school to get help with homework, classes in cooking, music, etiquette, arts and crafts.

She said senior day care is something that would be vital to the city. Clairton has only one senior center, on Miller Avenue, for a community City Manager Ralph Imbrogno says is 34 percent senior citizens.

"We need a community center because young people need to be properly supervised," said Beatrice Dykes, 87, of Waddell Avenue. "It'd be nice to have the senior day care because we need someplace to go during the day."

While the council has not heard back from any of the businesses it sent letters to, it is continuing its efforts to raise funds to buy the building. A flea market and bake sale raised $500 and another fund-raiser is planned July 31 in Clairton Park.

"If they get the building, it'll be a good thing," said Hannah Webb, owner of Selections on Miller Avenue. "If this is what they want to do, the money will come to them."

For further information, call Williams at (412) 896-0121.

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