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Community support needed to keep Montgomery YMCA open

The future of the Upper Kanawha Valley YMCA in Montgomery, now open for a year, boils down to whether community members join the facility. (WCHS/WVAH)

The Upper Kanawha Valley YMCA has been in the Montgomery community for about a year, and questions on whether its doors will stay open there now come down to if community members join the facility.

"It's something to do, and there really isn't anything to do in Montgomery," Cathy Turner of Montgomery said.

Turner comes to the Montgomery YMCA to swim, and Smithers Police Officer Christopher Osborne said he enjoys working out after his shift.

"It's good for me, good environment," Osborne said. "I blow off steam, and It's a nice gym."

YMCA spokesman Anthony Lewis said the facility is slowly catching on in Montgomery and hopes it can continue.

"It's been a slow transition. It's been a tough year," Lewis said.

Both cities, Smithers and Montgomery, paid for one-year memberships for their citizens, which was a win-win.

"It introduced the Y to the community members and the facility to the community members, and it gave them a year to come in and gave us a year to grow," Lewis said.

But the memberships expire in February, and Lewis said if more people don't join, the YMCA may have to close its doors.

"It takes membership, and it takes money to operate," Lewis said. "We as the YMCA of Kanawha Valley, we operate four facilities, this one can't bleed, and the rest survive because if this one is losing so much, the rest start to struggle."

Lewis said the YMCA does not turn members away and has a scholarship program for memberships which helps individuals and families.

"We need to know if the community wants us here and that is the way they let us know they come and support the programs and facility and join," Lewis said.

Osborne said the YMCA keeps kids and teens busy, which is good for everyone.

"It gives the community something to look forward to and a good environment to be in," Osborne said.

The mayors of both Montgomery and Smithers said the partnership with the YMCA has been beneficial for their communities and while the financial collaboration will be coming to an end, they hope the citizens will step up and support the YMCA.

If you would like more information on the YMCA's Community Assistance Scholarship, click here.

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