Council visits YMCA for meeting

Published 10:07 pm Monday, February 13, 2017

Selma City Council members toured the YMCA of Selma and Dallas County on Monday night ahead of a vote whether to extend a city contract with the Y.

For the past year, the city has split the $2 per night hotel lodging fee equally between the YMCA and a fund set aside for restoring the old Brown YMCA building.

While the fee is still in effect, the city’s contract with the YMCA was up for renewal in January and was extended one month for further discussion.

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The council is expected to decide this month on extending the YMCA contract and how to spend the money being collected from the lodging fee.

YMCA Chief Volunteer Officer Ray Thomas said he thought a council meeting at the YMCA would be a good way to show the impact the Y has in the community.

“What we would like you to take away is a good sense of what we do here at the YMCA,” Thomas said.

YMCA executive director Ann Murray talked about some programs the Y has started to reach out, including an after school program at Sophia P. Kingston Elementary School and the Power Scholars camp.

“We are going to move outside the walls of the Y,” Murray said.

During the week, 18 students participate in the after school program at Sophia P. Kingston.

The YMCA has also received funding to double its Power Scholars program from 60 to 120 students this summer.

The program works on improving elementary student’s math and reading skills but also includes elements of a traditional summer camp.

Power Scholars will take place in two local schools this summer rather than at the YMCA.

“It’s going to be great. They are going to be back and forth over here for enrichment activities. It’s going to be the best of both worlds,” Murray said.

Murray also talked about the Y’s Reach and Rise mentoring program, which is working to put 30 at-risk youth with positive adult role models for a year, and a Y on the Fly program, which takes recreational equipment and games to community parks on a regular basis during the summer.

The council also asked about the old Brown YMCA Building, which is still owned by the YMCA.

Councilman Sam Randolph said it hurts him to see the building decay under a leaky roof.

“I learned to swim at the Brown Y. I went to my first dance — When I pass by the Brown Y, it breaks my heart to see how it is,” Randolph said.

Thomas said the YMCA struggles to just operate one facility in Selma.

“To be just as honest as I can be, our strategic plan just doesn’t look beyond us trying to get out of debt and preserve this YMCA,” Thomas said.

The YMCA did have a work day in November to clean up outside the Brown Y building.

Councilman Johnny Leashore said he hopes the money being set aside in the Brown fund, now more than $100,000, can be used to help shore up the building.

“I think the stabilization of that building is paramount. It is a building that can have future use,” Leashore said.

YMCA board member Juanda Maxwell acknowledged the Brown YMCA is a passionate subject but said the Y is working to reach out in the community and Selma should support the one YMCA here.

“It’s just a sore spot. It just won’t heal,” Maxwell said.