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City awards $50K to Barr Street center

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By Jesef Williams

The city of Lancaster is once again giving financial support to Hope on the Hill.
City Council voted unanimously Feb. 28 to award the organization $50,000 to be used for  renovations of the former Barr Street school, now called the Barr Street Family Life Center.
The $50,000, which is specifically targeted for auditorium repairs, will come from the city’s hospitality tax grant fund.
That fund contains a little more than $1 million, said city Administrator Helen Sowell. Grants are given to events and projects that can foster tourism.
At its Feb. 28 meeting, council members continued discussion about a successful motion Councilwoman Sara Eddins made in October.
In that motion, Eddins wished to see the city award Hope on the Hill $50,000, only if the group could raise the same amount beforehand.
In January, the Rev. Wayne Murray, executive director for Hope on the Hill, told Sowell that the group had since received a $50,000 pledge from YouthBuild. But council questioned if the money was technically raised, or if YouthBuild would simply be providing labor.
Council members also asked if YouthBuild’s pledge came before or after Eddins’ motion was made.
Hope on the Hill representatives answered those questions and more during the meeting.
Charlene McGriff, vice-chair of the Hope on the Hill board, said the group acquired the $50,000 after Eddins’ motion.
But in response to another question, McGriff said Communities in Schools – YouthBuild’s parent group – had allocated some funding to Hope on the Hill earlier in 2011, though that amount was much less than $50,000.
She says the current pledge is legit.
“‘Raise’ to us means, ‘You come up with the money,’” McGriff said.
Construction professional David Cox, who guides the YouthBuild students during projects, also spoke that night.
He said some a portion of the $50,000 will buy supplies, while labor does account for some of the total.
The auditorium work includes a new drop ceiling, paint, new gas lines and a rebuilt stage.
“He’s actually giving us some in-kind work out of that,” Cox said about Max Melton, executive director for Communities in Schools. “Max has a good group. They’re doing a good job.”
Even though Eddins said Hope on the Hill’s effort doesn’t fully meet the spirit of her motion in October, she agreed that night to release the $50,000.
With this pledge, the city has given Hope on the Hill $200,000 in hospitality tax funding in recent years.
“Best of luck,” Mayor Joe Shaw said. “Keep raising those funds out there.”

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152