SYCC hosts town meeting to discuss expansion

BUCKHANNON — The Buckhannon Safety Complex hosted Stockert Youth and Community Center (SYCC) presentation for the new expansion plans, showcasing a video made by SYCC students Henley Tiffner and Oakley Moriarty. After the video presentation, Mayor Robbie Skinner and Mills Group Architect, Michael Mills sat up front to help better explain the plans for the Center’s expansion alongside City Recorder Randy Sanders, who displayed all the videos and slide shows for the public in attendance.

Buckhannon’s Joyce S. Stockert died on March 16, 1994. By her last will and testament drafted by the attorney, Stockert provided that upon the Upshur County Commission’s acceptance within six months following the probate of her will, that $500,000 was to be bequeathed for the purchase, construction, and operation of a youth center facility to be designated and named “The Stockert Youth Center” (SYC). Stockert specifically provided that “the operation of the youth center shall provide for entertainment, instruction, recreational athletics, sport and other wholesome activities for the youth of Upshur County.”

On September 15, 1994, the commission formally and unanimously accepted the bequest in accordance with Mrs. Stockert’s will. The county entered into a rent-free, year-to-year lease with the Upshur County Board of Education to use the old East Main Street School which had closed at the end of the 1994 school year to house the youth center.

The very first SYC program was the drill team featuring sometimes more than 100 pompom, baton, flag and rifle toting youth. Later, a director was hired and after-school programs were established. Until 2004, the County Commission honored the spirit and express purpose of the Stockert bequest. During the Binky Poundstone’s tenure as mayor from 1996-2000, the City of Buckhannon began to contribute financially and through in-kind services to improve SYC. West Virginia Wesleyan College also was substantially involved in SYC program administration and development since SYC’s inception, with SYC having benefited from the hundreds of Wesleyan students’ service, mentoring, and leadership involvement.

SYC was sustained during its first decade during the ownership and operation by the County Commission while relying heavily upon financial and other assistance from the city, the Upshur County Board of Education, the college and other individuals, entities and contributors.

In 2004, the partnering county, city and the Board of Education recognized and agreed that despite the previous sustaining of SYC facilities and programs under county ownership and operation, that a different method whereby the city would assume SYC ownership and operation with future financial and other assistance forthcoming from the County Commission and the Upshur County Board of Education, and other assistance from the college, would best assure SYC’s continued, long-term operation together with improvement of SYC facilities, programs and staffing. A friendly lawsuit was filed before Judge Tom Keadle, who approved the arrangement, and for the past 18 years, then SYC, and now SYCC has flourished under city ownership and the direction of a board comprised of all of the primary partnering entities, i.e., city, county, Upshur School System/Board of Education and West Virginia Wesleyan College.

In 2005, a Small Cities’ Block grant combined with in-kind services by the city permitted substantial remodeling of the facility gifted by the Board of Education. A retired bus was acquired from the Board of Education to permit transportation of SYC kids to parades, Camp Buccaneers at the county pool and trips to summer fieldtrips. In recent years the SYCC bus fleet grew.

Basketball, martial arts, Stock-Art, wrestling and many other programs were added to provide fun, safe, after-school and summer experiences for the children of our Buckhannon-Upshur community. No child has ever been turned away from SYC. Now beginning its 29th year, thousands of kids from our community have benefited from our SYC and now SYCC programs.

In 2018, Stockert Youth Center was renamed to Stockert Youth and Community Center.

During the City Hall meeting on Thursday, August 11, 2022, at the Safety Complex of Buckhannon, the public came to discuss what they would like to see in the new expansion. Mayor Skinner and Architect Mills jotted down ideas that the public presented to them.

Mayor Skinner expressed, “We are talking about positive happenings. This project will cost 3.5 million dollars, so we want to make sure we give the community exactly what they want and need.”

The public expressed activities for all ages, not just the youth. The SYCC is for the youth and for the community, so it will accommodate everyone. Skate parks, education for youth and seniors, and more were some things brought to the attention of the city for future activates in the new building.

“We don’t want to get rid of a piece of history so we are not tearing down the old SYCC building; we are expanding by building onto the old one which will remain fully functional. A connected walkway will connect the old building to the new one.

Ideas and suggestions are still appreciated. You can visit SYCC’s Facebook page to do so or if you have any questions.

Keep an eye out for future editions of The Record Delta for updates on the expansion.


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