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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of February 19 - 25, 2003


Janss Center changes
its name

Local group now part of worldwide
YMCA organization

Express Staff Writer

The Bill Janss Community Center has become part of the Wood River Valley’s history.

On Jan. 10, the Janss Center officially became a member of the National Council of YMCAs and is now called the Wood River Community YMCA. Despite the January merging of the two organizations, the Wood River Y’s official coming out party was this week.

"The YMCA’s history, reputation and strength in operating such facilities, and the Janss Center’s assets in board strength, comprehensive planning, user input and fundraising brought the necessary ingredients to the table to produce a super partnership," said YMCA Network Consultant Mike Ellis.

The seeds of the merger took root last summer and were planted serendipitously, said Wood River YMCA Board Chair Cynthia Murphy.

"We were preparing the program fee schedule for the new Janss Center. We decided to call the Boise Family YMCA to obtain a copy of their fees," Murphy said. "Sometime thereafter, Boise asked us to share Janss Center plans with them.

"When we did, we were pleased to hear from Jim Everett, executive director at the Boise Family YMCA. He remarked that we so closely resembled a YMCA in our design and business plans that we were actually a YMCA in every aspect, save our name."

Murphy said the relationship developed from there, and it eventually became obvious to both groups that joining forces was in the best interest for the entire Wood River Valley as the best solution to a lack of public recreation facilities.

The wide range of activities the YMCA will bring to the Wood River Valley’s children and families is something Janss Center officials said they are excited about.

Anticipated activities may include swimming lessons, volleyball leagues, infant-parent aquatic classes, day camps, art classes, teen dances, father and son basketball or indoor wall-climbing. All activities are designed to lure kids and families off the couch and away from the television.

The leader of a local group that serves as liaison between youth and adults is also excited about the partnership.

"I believe that the Wood River Community YMCA, with a focus on youth and family activities, is an important need in Blaine County," said Angenie McCleary, director of YAK!, Youth Adult Konnections.

YAK! believes the Wood River YMCA will help build developmental assets. The 70 middle school and high school members of YAK! consider increased youth recreational opportunities and having a place for youth and adults to interact to be top priorities for youth in Blaine County.

"The Wood River Community YMCA will provide more than a place to work out," said Alex Orb, co-chair of the Our Kids’ community center fundraising campaign. "When kids and parents take part in activities together, it becomes a way for them to spend quality time together, work toward a common goal and reconnect with each other."

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