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Ground broken for Y expansion

| Saturday, April 26, 2003

CARROLL TWP. - As the sun broke through the clouds Friday, Mon Valley YMCA officials broke ground.

Founding fathers of the YMCA in Carroll Township gathered with current board members, business owners and residents who have made a $2.5-million facility expansion a reality.

The YMCA launched a fund-raising campaign in September 2001.

Personal donations and contributions from Valley businesses, and such special events as a visit from former Monongahela resident and professional football legend Joe Montana, helped generate the first $1.5 million.

The YMCA awarded a contract to General Industries, of Speers, for construction of a 27,000-square foot facility that will house a child development and educational center, a wellness facility and community meeting rooms.

The YMCA opened in 1970. A wing was added in 1986 that featured a gymnasium, pool, racquetball courts and wellness center.

YMCA executive director Ken Wiltz said the community center became cramped and program development limited.

The Juvenile After School Program will move downstairs to the current fitness center.

Wiltz said the fitness center will reopen in the new building and will feature up to $200,000 in new cardiovascular and weight training equipment.

Key campaigners shared a few laughs at the groundbreaking.

"We still have a $1 million mortgage," YMCA board member Jerry Zahand said as he called on about 30 business owners and politicians to continue their financial support. "Our motto has been, 'Just don't say no.'"

State Rep. Peter J. Daley presented a $50,000 check obtained through the state Department of Community and Economic Development and vowed to seek more money for the project.

Mel Bassi, chairman of the Charleroi Federal Savings Bank, made a donation and expressed thoughts about the project.

"Vision is absolutely nothing without commitment," he said.

Bassi referred to a group of children exiting the YMCA.

"You are looking at our future," he said, gesturing to the small procession.

The center is expected to open in October.

The YMCA fund-raising campaign will continue with a charity golf outing May 19.

Ulice Payne, Donora native and president and chief executive officer of the Milwaukee Brewers, will host the event at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa.

A sports memorabilia auction is planned for the fall.

"It's been a good day," Wiltz said after the groundbreaking. "It will be a better day when we cut that yellow ribbon."

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