New YMCA branch possible for Watauga County

Chelsey Fisher

High Country Recreation hosted a meeting Tuesday for members of Watauga County to discuss the possibility of a YMCA coming to Watauga County.

President of the board of High Country Recreation, Scott St. Clair hosted the meeting with a PowerPoint presentation from CEO of the Catawba County YMCA, Bob Conklin.

The reason this meeting came about is because people of the community have expressed a need for an indoor recreation facility, St. Clair said.

High Country Recreation is not a YMCA group, but heard about the need for an indoor recreation facility, St. Clair said.

Conklin’s presentation explained what the YMCA’s goals are and why there is a need for a YMCA in Watauga County.

“Forty-four percent of school age children are obese in Catawba County,” Conklin said. “We are in a position to really impact those kids.”

The YMCA is more than just an indoor recreation facility and has been ranked as the number one non-profit association for four consecutive years, Conklin said.

The YMCA Organization does not charter new YMCAs, but rather they allow YMCAs to branch from other YMCAs, Conklin said.

The YMCA built in Watauga County would be part of the Catawba County YMCA family.

This is done to ensure that new YMCA’s do not struggle financially. Also, having a parent YMCA brings more resources to the new branch, Conklin said.

The YMCA in Watauga County estimate is a 35,000 square feet facility. It would initially cost $1 million and the total cost would be approximately $6 million to $7 million, Conklin said.

Mayor Loretta Clawson has not taken a stance as to whether or not there needs to be a YMCA in Watauga County, but plans to attend future meetings since there is community enthusiasm about the possibilty.

“This was really just a learning experience for me,” Clawson said.

Story: LINDSAY BOOKOUT, Intern News Reporter