Center may host after-school program

ELKINS — The director of the Phil Gainer Community Center told Elkins City Council Thursday that officials are working to create an after-school program for middle-school students at the center.

“I’d like to see us put an emphasis on youth programs in the community,” Chris Lee said during Thursday’s regular council meeting.

Lee pointed out that, during the teacher and school personnel work stoppage, the city’s Parks and Recreation department partnered with the Randolph County Family Resource Network to offer a day camp for children while schools were closed.

He said the idea for the day camp came from discussions with Rebecca Vance, the executive director of the FRN. They decided to charge just $5 per child per day, to cover the cost of lunch and a snack.

The camp quickly caught on, as the number of children taking part grew from 11 the first day to 25 the second, 51 the third and 74 the fourth day.

Lee said 85 individual children participated during the four days, and he noted the camp was run by 25 volunteers, “many of whom were teachers.”

He said once word about the camp got around, food donations came in from Kroger, Wal-Mart, Davis Medical Center, Randolph County Schools and other donors.

“I think that what we did here a couple weeks ago is a perfect example of what we could do in the future,” Lee said.

The proposed “after-school program concept” would be “intended for middle school students” who would be “coming down in a group” from Elkins Middle School to the nearby center when school ends for the day, Lee noted.

“It would also be open to private school and home-schooled children but they would have to have transportation,” he said.

Lee pointed out a survey is being made available through the month of March to gauge how much interest exists in the community for such an after-school program.

He urged council to “please continue to support this idea.”

The next city council meeting will be at 7 p.m. April 5 at City Hall.