B y Jaime Thomas
Despite low numbers, PBA youth center continues programs
It’s got everything a kid could ask for: a big dance floor with a snazzy lighting system, video games, pool tables, food and more.
The Police Benevolent Association (PBA) youth center on Main Street is just missing one thing — more kids. Regular attendance to weekly dances is about half what it was several years ago, and there is no clear reason as to why that is.
“It’s a safe place for kids to go and enjoy themselves and socialize and call their own,” said Dave Williams, who helps run the center. The spot offers Friday night dances for the younger, third to sixth-grade crowd and Saturday night dances for those in grades seven to 12.
While Williams used to see upward of 150 students at each dance, he now sees 35 to 75. Though he is unsure what has changed, he blames a lower turnout on a poor economy, and the fact that students are over the novelty of the center.
The association used to hold a daily, after-school program that regularly garnered up to 60 kids, but heating and other expenses far outweighed incoming money, so they had to stop.
As it stands, the only funds used to keep the self-sustaining center heated, cooled or lighted come from the $5 dance fee.
“There’s no municipal funding. Dances support the building, and the kids coming support the building,” Williams said.
The PBA has been running the dances for about a decade, and the group extensively renovated and moved into the current 6,500 square-foot location four years ago.
What Williams wants area parents and youth to realize is the events are open to and attract everyone. He sees kids from Fort Ann, Whitehall, Poultney and other nearby towns at the dances, so Granville students have a chance to branch out and meet others from outside their own town.
Demands for dances and all-nighters continue to come in. On Saturday, for example, there was an all-night dance, where students could dance to their hearts’ content to motion-triggered laser lights, play pool or table hockey for free on any number of tables or play video games, all the while listening to music of their choice from the DJ booth. All the fun was followed by a breakfast before they went home.
Every dance has a number of chaperones including police, parent and community volunteers, and Williams said there is a stern policy for violence.
The PBA is considering expanding offerings in the future to possibly include something along the lines of a coffee house for college-aged locals. Friday night dances take place from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday night dances are from 7 to 10 p.m.