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For the week of January 22 - 28, 2003

News

Janss Center gets new push from partnership with YMCA


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

Representatives of the Bill Janss Community Center are touting their new YMCA credentials as the push they needed to re-energize efforts to build a community recreation center in Ketchum.

"The YMCA’s history, reputation and strength in operating recreational facilities and the Janss Center’s assets in board strength, comprehensive planning, user input and fund-raising brought the necessary ingredients to the table to produce a super partnership," said Janss Center Board Chair Cynthia Murphy.

What’s more, Ketchum’s mayor appears to be getting on board with the project, for which he expressed numerous doubts just last month.

"I do think it’s a step in the right direction," said Mayor Ed Simon. "I would like to move towards working with this group, which has already put in a lot of effort."

The Janss Center officially became a YMCA on Jan. 10, when YMCA network consultant Mike Ellis announced the nationwide nonprofit would partner with the local effort. What the partnership means is, the Janss Center is no longer the Janss Center, but a YMCA. The name, however, has not yet been changed to reflect the new alignment.

According to the YMCA, based in Chicago, the nation's 2,400-plus YMCAs are in 10,000 communities throughout all 50 states. YMCAs have been serving communities for nearly 150 years by meeting the health and social services needs of families and individuals.

"Because all communities have different needs, all YMCAs are different," the organization said. "A YMCA in your community may offer child care or teen leadership clubs. A Y in the next town may have swimming lessons or drawing classes. Every Y makes its own decisions on what programs to offer and how to operate."

In a meeting with the community last month, Boise YMCA Executive Director Jim Everett and Boise YMCA volunteer Jennifer Casey stressed the organization’s focus on children, families and community.

"The planning, we think, has been great," Everett said. "I think it has been very thoughtful. My first impression when I saw plans for the Janss Center were, ‘This looks like a Y without the Y name on it.’"

Since 1985, the Bill Janss Activity Center has been working to build a community recreation center in Ketchum and began discussing its plans with the YMCA several months ago. Also, for roughly three years, a grassroots group of Hailey citizens has been courting the YMCA as a potential partner in a Hailey-based community center.

But, last week, Ellis said the Hailey group would not be granted separate YMCA status.

"We want the YMCA at the Janss Center to serve the whole Wood River Valley community. We want Hailey people to work with the Janss Center," he said.

But Reamy Goodwin, who has been spearheading the Hailey efforts, said Tuesday that his group is going ahead full bore with efforts to build a community center in Hailey.

Murphy said the Janss Center board welcomes the Hailey community center advocates to participate in the planning of a Ketchum-based facility and would prefer collaboration to a contest. Transportation and recreation needs for the entire valley will be part of the Janss Center planning process, she said.

For Ketchum’s part, Simon said a special meeting would be scheduled in February to finalize a resolution that "makes both sides put their money where their mouth is."

In August 2001, the Ketchum City Council unanimously approved a resolution stating the city would negotiate with the Janss Center to "establish the amount, mechanism and other terms and conditions acceptable to the city for funding the project."

The agreement between the Janss Center and the city, in concept, was that Ketchum would supply property at the city-owned park-and-ride lot, and the Janss Center would build a facility.

Meanwhile, the Janss Center-local YMCA officials appear excited about their new affiliation.

"The Y has been around for 150 years," said Janss Center Campaign Chairman Mike Wolter. "With that, they bring a wealth of experience and knowledge."

 

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