Arrow-right Camera


Boys & Girls Club eager for new home

Sun., March 29, 2009

Ryan Davis, executive director of Kootenai County Boys & Girls Club, said that when a child walks through the front door, “status, where they came from, dissolves” then and there.

“In many cases, we’re a home away from home for them,” Davis said.

Presently that home is in the Post Falls Church of the Nazarene, but a new location has been secured with a 30-year lease payable to the city of Post Falls. The new location will be home to a $2.5 million, 18,000-square-foot building.

The new facility will be adjacent to the Post Falls Library and Post Falls School District administration building, with five schools nearby.

Davis said the Boys & Girls Club would like to start construction this year, but that depends on funding. The club has about $1.8 million in pledges. The capital campaign is for $2.9 million, allowing $400,000 for the first year’s operating costs.

“We’re constantly raising funds,” Davis said. “The plan is to develop an endowment fund.”

The Post Falls City Council was asked March 3 for $250,000 for the project from the capital facilities plan fund for indoor recreation. City Administrator Eric Keck, who is on the Boys & Girls Club board of directors, said the money comes from impact fees on residential construction. Keck said the city has an agreement with the Post Falls School District to use its facilities, mainly the gymnasiums, but they need more space.

David Fair, director for Post Falls Parks and Recreation, said the department did wish to partner with the Boys & Girls Club, but only for $100,000. Davis said once the Boys & Girls Club has reviewed the lease, it will decide how to move forward.

“It’s not taxpayer money,” Davis said. “The only taxpayer money we use is if a taxpayer chooses to invest in the Boys & Girls Club.”

Longtime Boys & Girls Clubs supporter Dick Bennett, of Hayden, gave $500,000 for the facility. In 2001, Bennett donated the same amount for a club in Clarkston.

Last summer the Post Falls club saw 130 to 150 kids daily and had a waiting list. It has 475 members now, an increase of more than 200 percent from 2007.

Davis emphasized the mission of Boys & Girls Clubs is as a youth development agency, not a day care. Kids ages 6 to 18 are welcome.

When kids arrive after school, they receive a snack, followed by homework assistance, which Davis calls the “power hour.” The idea is to get their homework out of the way so they have time to spend with their family at home.

The club also provides drug and alcohol education programs, and visits from local dentists and doctors who do volunteer screening. The new facility will have a café, which will also serve as an activity center, plus a gymnasium. Post Falls Parks and Recreation would have access to the gym in evenings and weekends.

The Post Falls facility will be named the Jordan Johnson Center, after Post Falls High School student Jordan Johnson, who died of a heart attack in 2006 at age 15. Johnson played football and was an all-around athlete and great example of a fine young man, Davis said.

The project has been put out to bid.

There are 4,300 clubs nationwide, serving about 4.8 million children.

Linda Ball

Apollo 11 exhibit shines

Last week, Sheri Potts’ South Pines Elementary second-grade class was the first group to see the Valley Heritage Museum’s new Apollo 11 exhibit. The fact that the exhibit wasn’t quite done didn’t dampen the students’ enthusiasm.

The exhibit is tucked into a darkened corner with tiny lights that represent stars. Pictures of the planets revolve overhead. “I think that was Saturn,” said one boy as the distinctive orb swirled by.

“When you come in here, there’s just the sense that you’re in space,” said museum director Jayne Singleton.

The exhibit includes a mock-up of the lunar module on a fake moon surface. A model of the rocket that lifted the module into space sits in the corner below pictures and biographies of Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin.

Students read information off the wall that tells them Apollo 11 weighed 6,612,000 pounds and its maximum speed was 250,387 mph.

Kids seemed enthralled by a replica of the plaque that was placed on the moon’s surface, touching it and tracing the letters as they read.

“It’s very cool,” said student Taylor Jennings. “I’m interested in NASA. My dream is to actually go up into space and see what it’s like up there. I really want to go there.”

The students also gravitated toward a mission control module created by museum volunteers, flipping switches and pushing buttons as they put old-fashioned microphone headsets on. Two televisions mounted into the panel played videos of the Apollo 11 launch and Armstrong walking on the moon. Binders resting on top of the module contain copies of mission plans that visitors can flip through.

The exhibit will be finished in April when artifacts arrive from the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Singleton is expecting to get moon rocks, a helmet used in the mission and some “space food.”

Nina Culver

Snow removal cost piles up

Spokane Valley may be paying for this winter’s snow removal over the next four years.

Federal disaster assistance is expected to remove a little of the sting, though.

City Finance Director Ken Thompson said snow-removal costs were more than three times the city’s $400,000 plowing budget – an overage of approximately $1 million. The bill included work by private contractors as well as the Spokane County Road Division.

After taking $430,000 from the emergency fund, the city diverted some $200,000 in unspent Public Works money that was budgeted last year for other purposes. Then, Thompson said, it was necessary to siphon about $370,000 from the Public Works reserves.

By the time the City Council approved this year’s budget, city officials expected the snow emergency fund to be wiped out. So the council lent $500,000 from the general fund to replenish it. The loan is to be repaid over four years.

John Craig

Click here to comment on this story »