Century Florida seeks professional help

Published 2:27 am Monday, January 17, 2005

By By Lee Weyhrich
When Century Florida residents needed help with after-school programs they enlisted a pair of local boys who made it big, Buck Showalter, manager of the Texas Rangers baseball team and Anthony Pleasant, defensive end for the New England Patriots.
Both men grew up in the Century area of Escambia, Fla. and both have gone on to lucrative careers.
Janet Cooper, a parent, suggested Century get a YMCA.
"We really needed a facility for the community to use," she said. "This would be a big step for our area."
Cooper filled out the necessary paperwork to get the YMCA to speak to her.
Cooper was then contacted by Skip Vogelsang and Tim Dunsford, board members of the Pensacola YMCA .
"The next step is to raise money to fund the YMCA," Vogelsang said.
Pleasant and Showalter still have ties to this area and were scheduled to speak to the students at Northview High School Thursday. This seemed like a good opportunity to move on to the next step, Cooper said.
The two men offered their support. "I'll help any way I can," said Showalter. "We're fortunate to have some of the contacts we have on a national level."
Century is outside the jurisdiction of the Atmore YMCA and the Pensacola YMCA.
"Century needs summer daycamps, youth sports, adult health and especially a swimming pool," Vogelsang said .
Local YMCAs are totally autonomous, meaning their funds come from local sources but the management comes from the YMCA, Dunsford said.
According to Vogelsang the main sources of income for a YMCA comes from program fees, dues, fundraising and charitable organizations such as the United Way.
The early stages of the YMCA project would cost about $250,000 to $300,000, Vogelsang said.
"Our goal is not to make money," Vogelsang said. "Our only desire is to break even; to balance the budget and remain financially stable."
Before Century can make the next step for a YMCA, however funds have to be raised for a feasibility study.
"A feasibility study can cost between $12,000 and $20,000 or more, but it is necessary," Vogelsang said.
According to Vogelsang, a feasibility study will determine if Century, one of the lowest ranked socio-economic areas in the country, could support a YMCA for a prolonged period of time.
With the exception of the management team all employees would be local. Each YMCA has to be supported by the community and, at least in early stages, a facility has to be provided until such time as one can be built.
"The middle school is the most likely place to have a YMCA for now," Cooper said.
A church is currently renting a portion of the middle school, which could make the property unavailable.

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