Thursday, April 2, 2009

Great Story from the Wellsboro Gazette

School, YMCA, trucker donate to new rec building
by Jason Przybycien

The official fund-raising campaign can’t start yet, but the future Tioga County YMCA received a big donation from its Bradford County counterpart. On Friday, volunteers moved a truckload of recreational equipment and furniture from Athens to Mansfield. The equipment, donated by the Bradford County YMCA, was worth $10,000 to $15,000 according to a YMCA official.

Even the truck was donated. Bob Bartlett, of Bartlett Trucking in Mansfield, drove a full-size tractor trailer to Athens and back to get the equipment. Afterward, he declined compensation. “You got to help these people out,” Bartlett said. “It’s just a community thing.” Ed Grala, Mansfield Borough Manager, bought him lunch. “We went down and had a sandwich afterwards,” Bartlett said. “They didn’t have to do that, but it was lunch time anyway.”

Mansfield Borough is restoring the former National Guard armory, behind Mansfield Jr./Sr. High School in the borough. They purchased the building from the state with grant money, and River Valley Regional YMCA in Williamsport will help turn it into a regional recreation center.

Dave Fagerstrom, CEO of the regional YMCA, said this equipment and furniture will push the project forward. Still, YMCA is waiting for a formal agreement from the borough before it plans the fund-raising activities which will lead to a fully equipped facility. “Even after they get the building done, and even with this equipment, we’re going to have to do some things to get this ready to roll,” Fagerstrom said. “And we’ll need the community’s support to do that.”

The Bradford County YMCA, also managed by River Valley, had stored the used equipment at Athens High School about a year ago, after replacing it. In all there were: six pieces of circuit equipment (for weight lifting), a fooseball table, a pool table, and a ping-pong table. “It probably needs a little bit of work,” Fagerstrom said. “Some pads and that, but it’s in good shape.”

Also, the Athens school was planning to tear down the building where the equipment was stored, so the school district added a few pieces of furniture to the truckload. Now the armory has a bookshelf, some tables, and a couple desks. Athens students donated their time to load the truck, and Mansfield High School students helped to unload it with a forklift.

The unloading process moved very quickly, according to Rich Wilber, an MHS alumnus. Wilber is organizing community support through the STRYDE Facebook group and blog (

“We started unloading into the armory around noon and had the whole thing done by 12:45 or so,” Wilber said. “I walked through the building with Dave Fagerstrom and the other YMCA director that he brought from the East Lycoming Branch YMCA. “We talked about the ideas for a floorplan/layout of the building, where the locker rooms would go, how much equipment would be necessary, how to raise money in the current economic environment, etc.”

Wilber said the students at MHS who participated were a big help: Mike Wilston, Jeff Oakes, Alex Young, Justine Johnston, Carl Van Ness, Jamie Hill, Tyler Comfort, and especially Ramon Marti. “Ramon (Ray) is the member of MHS Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) who has really partnered with me in helping run these STRYDE events,” Wilber said. “He is just a sophomore, but has done a ton of work for this YMCA project. He helped me contact the Athens students to get them to volunteer and he has been the primary liaison for student volunteers from MHS. He really deserves a lot of credit for being so interested in this.”

Monday, March 16, 2009

Williamsport Sun Gazette Article

Bradford County YMCA donates used equipment for future Tioga facility


(Full Article Here)

MANSFIELD - The future Tioga County YMCA here got a shot in the arm with the donation of several pieces of used equipment from the Bradford County YMCA.

Dave Faegerstrom, director of the River Valley YMCA in Williamsport said the equipment would cost between $10,000 and $15,000 if it were purchased new.

The fitness and game equipment was delivered Friday to the former National Guard armory, in a semitrailer donated by Bob Bartlett Trucking, said borough manager Ed Grala.

Grala said Bartlett refused to allow him to pay for the use of the truck or the fuel over to Athens High School and back, where the equipment was in storage.

"He let me buy him lunch," Grala said.

With the help of borough employees and several members of the Future Business Leaders of America at Mansfield High School, the truck was unloaded in about 15 minutes.

According to Faegerstrom, there were five pieces of "circuit" equipment, which is not a complete set, but "enough to complement what we have."

A pool table, ping-pong table, fooseball table, several desks and other tables also were among the items donated, he added.

Rich Wilber, a 2000 graduate of Mansfield High School, said about six students from Athens High School helped them load the heavy equipment onto the truck.

"I sent an e-mail to the high school principal over there, Jeff Schrader, and the kids showed up to help, and it saved our backs," Wilber said.

It is "too early to tell" if the YMCA will open in time for this fall's target date, Faegerstrom said. He thinks it probably will not be ready to open for another year.

"The economy has kind of put a damper on what we have been trying to do here," he said, adding that, overall, the Y is "doing well."

The River Valley YMCA consists of five centers - Williamsport, Jersey Shore, Towanda, Muncy and now, hopefully, the Tioga County Y, Faegerstrom said.

As soon as an agreement is signed with the borough, the Y will start approaching businesspeople and the community at-large to help them get funding for the "basic amenities," such as locker room equipment, more fitness room equipment and the proper electricity needed to power it, he said.

Rates to join probably will be comparable to those charged by the Towanda facility, he said, but the philosophy of the Y is "if you can't afford to pay, we'll find a way to get you in."

"The Y has been around for 154 years, and even if the opening of this one was delayed a year or more, it's still going to happen," Faegerstrom said.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


From The Wellsboro Gazette (Article here)

Mansfield receives funds to renovate armory

by Natalie Kennedy and Jason Przybycien
Published: Wednesday, February 4, 2009 3:16 PM CST

Mansfield borough is closer to seeing a site for recreation and programs, thanks to a matching grant from the state.

Last Friday, Jan. 30, state Rep. Matt Baker presented borough officials with $108,700 from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The amount represents half the costs of the second phase of revamping the former Armory into a YMCA. The borough will provide the other half of the project costs.

According to Council President Steve Gee, the funds will be used to upgrade a heating system, replace windows and flooring and either encapsulate or remove asbestos tiles in the building.

Constructed in 1936, the building was first owned by the Smythe Park Association, which was deeded the property from the state in 1931. Several years later, sometime in the 1950s, the building was used by the Pennsylvania National Guard as an armory. It remained in use until a few years ago, when it was once more turned over, this time to the borough. The building’s next evolution will be into a YMCA.

(photo by NATALIE KENNEDY) Representatives from Mansfield Borough were on hand to accept a check for $108,700 from the state presented by Rep. Matt Baker. Accepting the check are (from left) Council President Steve Gee, Mayor Tom Wierbowski, Code Enforcement Officer Shawn Forrest, Baker, Councilman Ben Hutcheson, Councilwoman Marianne Bozzo, Water and Sewer Manager Ron Weed, Borough Manager Ed Grala and Councilman John Farrer.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Williamsport Sun Gazette

Thank you to Cheryl Clarke for keeping everyone informed about the YMCA project!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

STRYDE 5k Wrap-Up

The STRYDE 5k was a success!! Sixty people got together Saturday morning to enjoy the sunshine, learn about the YMCA project, exercise a little and serve as walking/running billboards.

The morning began as a reunion. People I had not seen in years began filling the parking lot at the armory. I reconnected with neighbors who used to live across the street and classmates who now live across the country. I met new people who had recently moved to Mansfield and high school students who have grown up there. I was even more excited when I found out that some of these students didn't go to Mansfield. They went to North Penn High School but wanted to support the project. The Tioga County Branch YMCA will need these kids and their families in order to succeed.

A little after 10:00, the group huddled together to learn about the YMCA project. I introduced Ed Grala, Mansfield Borough Manager, and Dave Fagerstrom, CEO of the River Valley Regional YMCA. Mr. Grala spoke about the history of the project and what the borough has done to prepare the building for use. Mr. Fagerstrom talked about the programs a YMCA could offer in our regional-community and the mission of the YMCA organization. There was applause after each man spoke.

The run/walk began just before 10:30. Two Mansfield police officers held traffic as we crossed over to East Main Street, and we were off! After the first few minutes, there was a string of participants reaching from Fourth Street and South Main all the way up through town to Decker Street at the top of the hill on North Main.

We completed the course and everyone headed over to Changos to escape the heat and to find a glass of water. I was so impressed with the Future Business Leaders of America group from MHS. They pulled up their chairs and spoke directly with Dave Fagerstrom and Sheri Crain from the RVR YMCA. They asked thoughtful questions and presented ideas that will definitely help this YMCA succeed.

When I got back to State College on Sunday afternoon, I found an email from one of the students waiting for me. He had taken the time (on a weekend) to write his own article about the event. He titled it "A Community in Motion", after the slogan on the back of the STRYDE t-shirts. Please check back here in a few days to read his article.

Thank you to everyone who participated, especially the students from all schools. You represented yourselves and our regional-community very well. Thank you for your help!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Natives return to promote YMCA

by Jason Przybycien

(Wellsboro Gazette online article here)

At the Mansfield Borough meeting Aug. 13, two former residents returned to support the proposed YMCA at the armory.

Rich Wilber, State College, said he is in contact with about 100 interested persons through a group he created called the Southern Tioga Regional Youth Development Effort. Wilber coordinated it through a Facebook page and online journal which he hopes to hand off to area youth.
"That's one month of work so far," he said.

Wilber said he has already spoken with Ann Kieser, the faculty advisor to the Future Business Leaders of America Club at Mansfield High School. He hopes those youths will maintain the Web sites and coordinate communications between youth and officials.

(photo by Jason Przybycien) Rich Wilber, right, and Thomas Smith want to see a YMCA in Mansfield. They returned here, where they grew up, to show their support at the Mansfield Borough Council meeting last week. They are shown with a promotional t-shirt designed for the YMCA effort by their friend Katelyn Bevard.

For more on this and other stories, pick up a copy of the Wellsboro/Mansfield Gazette today!