by Kate Evans
The Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle has closed on their deal to buy part of Berkmore Place, a commercial business complex across from Widmyer Elementary, as a new location for their Morgan County club. The club’s new address will be 261 Berkmore Place. The building houses Reed’s Pharmacy, Tri-State Community Health Center, a dentist’s office and other businesses.
The Boys and Girls Club was formerly located in the Morgan County Community Services Building on South Green Street where they’ve been since they opened in 1996.
Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle Executive Director Stacie Rohn was excited about finalizing the property sale and the upcoming renovations and move. Rohn noted that it’s the 25th anniversary of the club’s opening this year. The club has been closed to members during the pandemic.
Rohn said that the club moved to “The Blue” – the activity building of First United Methodist Church on Fearnow Road — last week and that they are now providing dinners and snacks to families with children for pick-up there.
Once their new Berkmore club location is finished, meal pickups will occur there. First United Methodist Church has been wonderful to work with through this time of transition, she said.
A $800,000 loan from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for purchasing that section of the Reed’s Pharmacy building was approved in January but the full process took a very long time, Rohn said.
The Morgan County Boys & Girls Club will be located in the former War Memorial Hospital Physical Therapy space at Berkmore Place.
Rohn said the new club will have a recreational area, game room, a main education space, a library, a commercial kitchen, a cafeteria and a dedicated space for teens.
The Boys and Girls Club received an additional $35,000 in funding for club renovations, installing a commercial kitchen and moving expenses — $25,000 from Morgan County Commission and $10,000 from First Energy Foundation.
Rohn said that renovations will start this weekend and that they hope to have them completed by mid-June with an opening date of July 1.
The commercial kitchen will be the most involved part of the renovations. They also plan to pull up all the old carpet in their location and put down new tile, which Rohn said is easier to wipe down and sanitize.
Rohn has requested grant money from the Seeley Foundation to help them to replace some furniture from the old location that has a lot of wear and tear. They’re also having an alarm system installed. 84 Lumber is providing some discounted deals on cabinetry for the club.
The Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation sponsored the library and has given the Boys and Girls Club $4,000 for books for their new club library.
Rohn said they are still running a seven-week summer camp program, which will put their wrap-up later in August. She felt that could benefit some families since the school summer programs will have ended before that.
Morgan County Boys and Girls Club activities include homework help, indoor games, outdoor sports, arts and crafts, computer activities, cooking, drug and violence prevention programs and community service clubs. The Boys and Girls Club also offers an after-school program.
Rohn said once they get the renovations completed and get settled into their new club location that they’ll plan a date for a ribbon cutting with a 25th anniversary celebration.
They’ll also look at rescheduling a couple of planned fundraisers that were put on hold with the pandemic — a dance at the Moose Lodge and a South Morgan Volunteer Fire Company bingo.