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Polk approves YMCA partnership

YMCA should take over county rec programs this summer

COLUMBUS—Polk County will be officially partnering with the Greater Spartanburg YMCA to take over its recreation programs. 

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday and approved a memorandum of understanding with the YMCA. Commissioners also heard several public comments, which were all supportive, regarding the partnership. 

Commissioners also heard from YMCA of Greater Spartanburg CEO Rick Callebs Monday night. 

Commissioner Chair Tommy Melton thanked county manager Marche Pittman and commissioner vice-chair Paul Beiler for getting the YMCA into Polk County. 

“Simply we need a YMCA in Polk County,” Melton said. “I believe that and will support it as long as I can.” 

Beiler, who is on the Polk County Recreation Advisory Board, said he is excited for the opportunities that we have. He said most of the things he hears is that we need things for young people to do in Polk County. 

He explained that the YMCA brand is $8.93 billion. He said when he heard that we could have a chance at partnering with the YMCA he jumped at the opportunity. 

“I want to thank everybody who had a hand in bringing this to fruition,” Beiler said. 

He said it’s been a year-long process. 

Callebs said he appreciates the support in Polk County. He’s been with the YMCA since 2004 and lives in Columbus. He said in 1955 the YMCA had a camp on White Oak Mountain for about 30 years. 

He said they will work with the recreation department, work with churches and work with the school system. 

Melton opened up the audience for questions for Callebs. 

One question was why it is feasible now since it was not several years ago when the Town of Tryon was working to get the YMCA at Harmon Field. 

Callebs said it is working with community partners and the support they have gotten. Melton said there were rocks that were being thrown at that time and it would take him 2 hours to explain why the effort did not work then. 

Another question regarding ages the YMCA serves. 

“We serve clients from the cradle to the grave,” Callebs said. 

He spoke of scholarships the YMCA gives. 

“Everybody is welcome. We have a program for everybody,” Callebs said. 

Commissioners unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with the YMCA. 

Plans are for the YMCA to take over by this summer, including all recreation programs as well as Gibson Pool this summer and summer camp. 

Future plans, if the partnership works, is for the YMCA to expand its programs and possibly build its own facility in the county.