As the town board mulls over the idea of spending $10,000 to get $400,000, new Councilman John Rozell reported to the board an offer for a week’s worth of expert repairs to the Whitehall Recreation Center by skilled workmen from Arkansas.
The town board has yet to formally reject an idea to apply for a $400,000 grant through Queensbury’s Shelter Planning, with an application fee cost of $9,500.
The idea to fix the center with grant monies has been set aside lately, but an offer of volunteer help. At its most recent meeting, Rozell said that he had spoken with Pastor Paul Sheperd of Grace Baptist Church. Shepherd told Rozell that a group from Arkansas was eager to fly east to fix as much of the recreation center as they could, Rozell said.
Pastor explains details
Contacted by phone for details, Rev. Shepherd said that he and his congregation had been moved by a recent news article in which Recreation Director Julie Egan had said, that she would take any help that she could get, be it grant money, volunteer contributions or simply volunteer repair work.
“My cousin, David Beagle, is associate pastor of the First Baptist Church in Leachville, Arkansas,” Shepherd said.
“His church takes volunteers all across the United States to build churches,”
The pastor said his cousin’s group has done construction work in nearby Kentucky and far-away Guatemala.
“I just looked in the newspaper and saw the need for work at the center,” Shepherd said, adding that “I know how laborious that kind of work can be.”
Shepherd also knows, he said, where volunteer workers can be found. Eight to twelve skilled laborers can be flown in from First Baptist Church in Leachville, Arkansas.
“It would likely be from 8 to 12 people, who would fly in, either in late July or early August,” Shepherd said. “It would be five days of intensive work.”
Town Board members to meet with Pastor
At its recent regular and special meetings, the Whitehall Town Board members expressed enthusiasm for the plan, informally appointing board members Rozell and Stephanie Safka, and Recreation Director Julie Egan, to act as an ad hoc committee to meet with Shepherd to pinpoint the specific work to be done this summer.
Councilman Rozell, himself a contractor, was later asked what probably would be the first work undertaken.
“The exterior needs to be painted, and two safety walls built. The entrance doors need to be replaced, and there’s fence work,” Rozell said.
Other projects considered for the center over the past year have included furnace repair or replacement, new signage, even internet capabilities. Councilwoman Stephanie Safka has long argued that such major undertakings will require grant monies.
As for Pastor Shepherd, he said he hopes the town does receive grant money.
“But if it doesn’t, we can do cleaning, painting and light construction. I would hope it would set a community example for other local groups to simply step forward and ask,
‘What can we do?’
“We don’t want to look like a white knight,” Pastor Shepherd continued. “We just want to show that it can be done. It just takes intentionality.”