by Kate Shunney
Morgan County’s chapter of the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle will be moving to a new home, and secured support last week from the Morgan County Commission to add a commercial kitchen to their future location.
Last Wednesday, July 15, club CEO Stacie Rohn updated county officials on the club’s plans to relocate and asked for county funds to pay for renovations and moving costs.
The club has been housed at the county-owned Community Services Building on Green Street in downtown Berkeley Springs since the club opened 25 years ago. The former school building is now up for sale by the county’s Economic Development Authority.
Rohn requested $25,000 from the Morgan County Commission to cover the cost of installing a commercial kitchen in a space at Berkmore Place. Berkmore Place is a commercial building complex across from Widmyer Elementary and contains Reeds Pharmacy, medical and dental offices, a liquor store and custom shirt business.
The Boys & Girls Club will occupy the space that use to hold Valley Health’s physical therapy practice.
Because Commissioner Ken Reed owns part of the Berkmore property, he removed himself from discussions about the club’s request for county funds.
Rohn thanked county officials for giving the Boys & Girls Club a home for 25 years in the Community Services Building.
“We need to find a new home and I think we’ve found it,” Rohn said.
She said prior to looking at the space in Berkmore Place, Ken and Talley Reed donated space on that property to the Boys & Girls Club in order for them to build a new club structure.
“That’s our forward vision, but it couldn’t happen quickly enough,” Rohn said. “We need to get out of that building.”
“A big part of being able to move into that space involves renovations,” Rohn said of the new location.
The club provides hot meals to club members and provides meals for afterschool and summer programs in Morgan County Schools, which is an important part of the club’s finances and mission, said Rohn.
“We’re asking for $25,000 to defray some of the renovation costs and put a commercial kitchen in that space,” she said.
Rohn said the location at Berkmore will let many of the club’s members walk home to Catawba Club, a low-income housing community on Myers Road. That community can be reached by trails from Berkmore Place, said Rohn.
The majority of club members are picked up at the end of the day by family members who drive, so the location out of town won’t be a barrier to families, she said.
Rohn also said the proximity of Tri-State Community Health clinic in the upper level of Berkmore Place is a plus for the club if children need emergency medical attention.
She said the club is looking at other sources of money for the future rent and expenses for the move, including loans and private donors.
“It’s wonderful to have in the community and what you provide is fantastic,” said Commissioner Sean Forney.
Commissioners approved the funds request, which will come out of carryover funds from the last fiscal year.
“It’s not our job per se to fund the Boys and Girls Club or Starting Points, but we understand the value of them to our community,” said Commission President Joel Tuttle.
The Boys & Girls Club provides afterschool activities, snacks and dinner and homework help at the Morgan County location. The club typically also runs a summer camp for local youth.
In-person club operations have been suspended since West Virginia schools closed in March, but the club has continued to offer meals to local families each week.