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Rec center supporters pack meeting

A capacity crowd filled the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors meeting room Monday night.
But this time most of the crowd was there to throw support behind a board proposal rather than complain about it.
“This is one of the most positive things we’ve done in the 20 years I’ve been here,” Craig Strain told board members during a public comment period on a Wellness/Recreation Center proposed for the former TMD Friction plant in Pulaski County Corporate Center industrial park.
Strain said he has spoken out in the past against bringing other jurisdictions’ trash and inmates into Pulaski County, but this time, “I’m not a naysayer tonight, I’m a yea-sayer.”
Strain was one of 11 people who spoke on the indoor recreation center proposal. All but three of the speakers were fully in favor of the plan and most of the citizens in attendance responded when asked to raise their hands if they support the center.
One of the speakers was a former county resident who served on the board of supervisors when the county was approached with the idea of developing Randolph Park.
Charles Cook said he may live in Tennessee now, but his heart is still in Pulaski County. He said he still reads The Southwest Times online and when he saw the first article about the proposed center, he thought it was a good idea.
In the past “we (the board of supervisors) had a similar challenge before us as you have now … Who would have ever thought (at that time) we would have 52,000 people in the swimming pool (at Randolph Park) and another 30,000” using the park’s other facilities, Cook said. He was referring to an earlier statement by Recreation Director Anthony Akers that 51,970 new people used the pool at Randolph Park this year. Akers said the park is drawing visitors from an hour and a half radius.
As for those who might question how the county will pay for the center, Cook said, “We’ve always found a way to pay. With the figures I’ve heard kicked around (for the proposed indoor facility) we can’t afford not to buy this building.
“This recession or depression or whatever you want to call it will be over some day. With this facility sitting in the middle of the industrial park, what better way is there to showcase this county,” Cook added.
Cecil King from the Robinson District thanked the board for considering the indoor center. As for those who are concerned the center might result in the closing of the Hensel Eckman YMCA in Pulaski, King said this center, nor the ones in Wytheville or Radford, are the “cause of the local Y’s problems.” He said the Y’s problem is that it isn’t big enough to serve the whole county and it isn’t centrally located.
Kevin Meredith of Snowville said his family, which includes five children, are “really excited” about the proposed center. He noted that his family currently uses the facility in Wythe County.
Meredith said the recreation center will bring revenue to the county because people who travel to the county to use it will also spend money here for gas and food. As an example, he said his family recently went to a move, ate at a restaurant and went Christmas shopping in Wythe County during a recent visit to its center.
“This will be a great investment for Pulaski County,” he said.
Andy McCready said he wasn’t sold on the need for a recreation center when he first was appointed to a committee to study the issue a little over a year ago. However, after reviewing the results of surveys, he changed his mind.
He said there may be some naysayers on the issue, but “this project will keep 95 percent of the people happy.”
McCready said a recreation center would be a “excellent use” for the TMD building because it is capable of meeting the county’s recreation needs for at least the next 10 to 15 years. If there is a need for a larger recreation facility in the future, the TMD plant still could be converted back to industrial use if necessary, he said.
He said he has been amazed by the number of people who travel long distances to Randolph Park for youth sports. He noted that he often hears those people say they are going to stay in the county overnight after the games are over.
“These people provide tax revenue to our county even though they don’t own property here,” McCready said.
He says he does, however, disagree with Akers as to the cost to remodel the plant. He thinks the project could be done for less than estimates architects projected if inmate labor and local contractors are used. He asked the county to consider dividing the project into small enough projects to allow local contractors to bid.
“This is a win for our county that will pay dividends in the future,” McCready concluded.
Local certified public accountant A. J. Smith said he was on site during much of the construction of the TMD plant and “it is one of the finer facilities we have in this county.” He said he wondered what the most profitable use of the building would be when he learned of TMD’s financial difficulties. “There’s no question in my mind this proposal is one of the finest uses that can be made of this facility.”
Smith and other speakers said they feel the center will help “take care of a lot of problems with our youth” because it will give them something to do.
Faye Hanks of the Town of Pulaski said she hopes she isn’t a naysayer, but she is concerned about the impact the center would have on the YMCA and funding for local education.
Hanks said pay for teacher salaries already isn’t competitive with other counties in Southwest Virginia, so she questions whether the county can afford to pay for a recreation center when there is a need for more educational funding.
Hanks acknowledged there are problems at the YMCA, but she questioned whether many people are aware it is a non-profit organization and a Christian organization. She noted that any senior citizen with an insurance plan can get a free membership to the Y through the Silver Sneakers program.
Pulaski Councilman Morgan Welker questioned whether it is a good idea to use the area’s best industrial facility for a recreation center rather than keeping it free as a bargaining tool for industries. He said he isn’t totally sold on the need for a recreation center, but he isn’t totally against it either.
Welker said he also is concerned about whether youth will be able to get to the center since it isn’t close to a populated area. He said that while he would like to see the center close to Pulaski, he would at least like to see it closer to Dublin or somewhere with a concentrated population.
The councilman also questioned whether as many citizens would be supportive of the project once they learn they will have to pay to use it. He said he thinks the county’s money would be better spent on local highway projects or getting people back to work during tough economic times.
Angela Clevinger with the local education association said the association doesn’t want to see funding that could be used for education diverted to an indoor recreation center. She said she would like to see the county put the funding on the community as much as possible rather than use county funds for the project.
Lee Spiegel, head of Pulaski Community Partners Coalition, said many of the activities proposed for the center are activities youth mention as important to them.
Jamie McCarty, a coach at Pulaski County High School, said a center such as the one proposed is vitally important for the high school to continue to develop “rounded student athletes.” He said he thinks the center would be good for the whole area, particularly if it is close to the high school, as is planned.
At the conclusion of the comments, County Administrator Peter Huber said the costs for the center haven’t been “tied down” enough to ask the supervisors to vote on funding the project at this point.
The board has called a special meeting for Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. in the boardroom to discuss funding and make a decision. The snow date for the meeting is Jan. 11 at 7 p.m.

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Rec center supporters pack meeting

A capacity crowd filled the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors meeting room Monday night.
But this time most of the crowd was there to throw support behind a board proposal rather than complain about it.
“This is one of the most positive things we’ve done in the 20 years I’ve been here,” Craig Strain told board members during a public comment period on a Wellness/Recreation Center proposed for the former TMD Friction plant in Pulaski County Corporate Center industrial park.
Strain said he has spoken out in the past against bringing other jurisdictions’ trash and inmates into Pulaski County, but this time, “I’m not a naysayer tonight, I’m a yea-sayer.”
Strain was one of 11 people who spoke on the indoor recreation center proposal. All but three of the speakers were fully in favor of the plan and most of the citizens in attendance responded when asked to raise their hands if they support the center.
One of the speakers was a former county resident who served on the board of supervisors when the county was approached with the idea of developing Randolph Park.
Charles Cook said he may live in Tennessee now, but his heart is still in Pulaski County. He said he still reads The Southwest Times online and when he saw the first article about the proposed center, he thought it was a good idea.
In the past “we (the board of supervisors) had a similar challenge before us as you have now … Who would have ever thought (at that time) we would have 52,000 people in the swimming pool (at Randolph Park) and another 30,000” using the park’s other facilities, Cook said. He was referring to an earlier statement by Recreation Director Anthony Akers that 51,970 new people used the pool at Randolph Park this year. Akers said the park is drawing visitors from an hour and a half radius.
As for those who might question how the county will pay for the center, Cook said, “We’ve always found a way to pay. With the figures I’ve heard kicked around (for the proposed indoor facility) we can’t afford not to buy this building.
“This recession or depression or whatever you want to call it will be over some day. With this facility sitting in the middle of the industrial park, what better way is there to showcase this county,” Cook added.
Cecil King from the Robinson District thanked the board for considering the indoor center. As for those who are concerned the center might result in the closing of the Hensel Eckman YMCA in Pulaski, King said this center, nor the ones in Wytheville or Radford, are the “cause of the local Y’s problems.” He said the Y’s problem is that it isn’t big enough to serve the whole county and it isn’t centrally located.
Kevin Meredith of Snowville said his family, which includes five children, are “really excited” about the proposed center. He noted that his family currently uses the facility in Wythe County.
Meredith said the recreation center will bring revenue to the county because people who travel to the county to use it will also spend money here for gas and food. As an example, he said his family recently went to a move, ate at a restaurant and went Christmas shopping in Wythe County during a recent visit to its center.
“This will be a great investment for Pulaski County,” he said.
Andy McCready said he wasn’t sold on the need for a recreation center when he first was appointed to a committee to study the issue a little over a year ago. However, after reviewing the results of surveys, he changed his mind.
He said there may be some naysayers on the issue, but “this project will keep 95 percent of the people happy.”
McCready said a recreation center would be a “excellent use” for the TMD building because it is capable of meeting the county’s recreation needs for at least the next 10 to 15 years. If there is a need for a larger recreation facility in the future, the TMD plant still could be converted back to industrial use if necessary, he said.
He said he has been amazed by the number of people who travel long distances to Randolph Park for youth sports. He noted that he often hears those people say they are going to stay in the county overnight after the games are over.
“These people provide tax revenue to our county even though they don’t own property here,” McCready said.
He says he does, however, disagree with Akers as to the cost to remodel the plant. He thinks the project could be done for less than estimates architects projected if inmate labor and local contractors are used. He asked the county to consider dividing the project into small enough projects to allow local contractors to bid.
“This is a win for our county that will pay dividends in the future,” McCready concluded.
Local certified public accountant A. J. Smith said he was on site during much of the construction of the TMD plant and “it is one of the finer facilities we have in this county.” He said he wondered what the most profitable use of the building would be when he learned of TMD’s financial difficulties. “There’s no question in my mind this proposal is one of the finest uses that can be made of this facility.”
Smith and other speakers said they feel the center will help “take care of a lot of problems with our youth” because it will give them something to do.
Faye Hanks of the Town of Pulaski said she hopes she isn’t a naysayer, but she is concerned about the impact the center would have on the YMCA and funding for local education.
Hanks said pay for teacher salaries already isn’t competitive with other counties in Southwest Virginia, so she questions whether the county can afford to pay for a recreation center when there is a need for more educational funding.
Hanks acknowledged there are problems at the YMCA, but she questioned whether many people are aware it is a non-profit organization and a Christian organization. She noted that any senior citizen with an insurance plan can get a free membership to the Y through the Silver Sneakers program.
Pulaski Councilman Morgan Welker questioned whether it is a good idea to use the area’s best industrial facility for a recreation center rather than keeping it free as a bargaining tool for industries. He said he isn’t totally sold on the need for a recreation center, but he isn’t totally against it either.
Welker said he also is concerned about whether youth will be able to get to the center since it isn’t close to a populated area. He said that while he would like to see the center close to Pulaski, he would at least like to see it closer to Dublin or somewhere with a concentrated population.
The councilman also questioned whether as many citizens would be supportive of the project once they learn they will have to pay to use it. He said he thinks the county’s money would be better spent on local highway projects or getting people back to work during tough economic times.
Angela Clevinger with the local education association said the association doesn’t want to see funding that could be used for education diverted to an indoor recreation center. She said she would like to see the county put the funding on the community as much as possible rather than use county funds for the project.
Lee Spiegel, head of Pulaski Community Partners Coalition, said many of the activities proposed for the center are activities youth mention as important to them.
Jamie McCarty, a coach at Pulaski County High School, said a center such as the one proposed is vitally important for the high school to continue to develop “rounded student athletes.” He said he thinks the center would be good for the whole area, particularly if it is close to the high school, as is planned.
At the conclusion of the comments, County Administrator Peter Huber said the costs for the center haven’t been “tied down” enough to ask the supervisors to vote on funding the project at this point.
The board has called a special meeting for Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. in the boardroom to discuss funding and make a decision. The snow date for the meeting is Jan. 11 at 7 p.m.

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