Efforts to open Y continue ? and some residents can’t wait

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 11, 2001

FERRIDAY – Antoinette Brown believes her children need something better to do in the afternoons than play board games and watch television – and that is why she’s glad that a YMCA may be coming to Ferriday.

&uot;We live in Montgomery Square Apartments and we have a basketball court there, but the older kids get it first, and there’s no park around here. So there’s nothing for the younger kids to do but go back inside,&uot;&160;said Brown, whose children are ages 8, 9, 11 and 12. But such a facility wouldn’t be just for children. &uot;Yeah, I’m hoping they will have a fitness center for myself, too,&uot; said Brown, who signed her children up for Y programs last week at town hall. &uot;A lot of people are looking forward to it – for kids and for adults, too.&uot;

And members of the Concordia Parish YMCA Steering Committee are still working to help make it happen. Next, they will apply by a May 15 deadline to the Alexandria-based Rapides Foundation for grants to help fund Y programs.

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Such grants could be used for a broad range of health and education programs, including teaching healthy behaviors to both children and adults, said Allen Smart of the Rapides Foundation. The committee has not yet decided how much it would request from the foundation.

&uot;Something like a YMCA would give kids programs that would teach them about how to take care of their health through things like exercise,&uot; said Tanya Collins, who also inquired at town hall about Y programs.

Ferriday has a swimming pool, ball teams and other recreational programs &uot;here and there,&uot; Collins said. &uot;But I&160;think something like the Y would be better because they would be able to get more funding for better programs,&uot;&160;she said.

The steering committee has been working for weeks to raise the $150,000 it would need to establish a Y branch in Ferriday and bring in an executive director.

Concordia Recreation District No. 1’s board has voted to allocate $75,000, and the steering committee is requesting $25,000 from the Town of Ferriday.

The town is still waiting on an attorney general’s opinion on whether it could allocate funds for the Y effort, said Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin.

The committee is also soliciting donations from local businesses, groups and individuals for the effort and plans to hold at least one fund-raiser – a family portrait session to be held March 24 at the First United Pentecostal Church of Ferriday. Certificates for family portraits will be sold and could raise an additional $10,000 for the YMCA effort if at least 500 families schedule photo sessions. So far, more than 200 families have signed up for portraits, Promise said Wednesday.

The committee sent out letters to local businesses Wednesday asking them to donate $3,500 to pay for fitness equipment for the Concordia Parish YMCA. The equipment is being held at the Alexandria headquarters of the YMCA of Central Louisiana, of which the local Y would be a branch.

That equipment could be set up at the former Ferriday Kindergarten Center if an agreement is signed allowing the town to lease the now-vacant facility from the Concordia Parish School Board. But as of Wednesday, that agreement had not yet been signed, McGlothin said.

Both Brown and Collins said they believe a Concordia YMCA is needed. Brown believes the idea is long overdue and that more citizens would support the effort if the steering committee publicized it more. &uot;A facility like this is something we’ve been missing for years and years,&uot; Brown said. &uot;I’m glad that someone is taking an interest in bringing the Y here.&uot;