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Statesboro Family YMCA hiring, renovating
Construction continues on facility at old Sallie Z. school site
W 071317 NEW YMCA 01
In preparation for the new YMCA, workers open up space for new windows in the old Sallie Zetterower Elementary School gym.

As construction workers knock out portions of walls so large windows can be installed, the building still looks more like the old Sallie Zetterower Elementary School gym than the new Statesboro Family YMCA wellness center. But the Y has started hiring staff toward a predicted fall opening.

“Just this week we began accepting resumes for the Statesboro YMCA, and they include different types of programming instructors and group exercise instructors, child care staff, fitness staff and membership staff,” said YMCA of Coastal Georgia District Vice President Krystal McGee.

For more info, visit and click on “jobs” in the top bar. Statesboro is in the alphabetical list of the regional Y’s locations. Most of the jobs are part-time.

But the YMCA leadership is now interviewing candidates for the full-time job of branch director.

“We are in the process of hiring a branch director who will see the day-to-day operations, and we hope to have him or her hired by the first or middle of August,” McGee said.


Old school to new Y

The Statesboro Y was chartered as a branch of the Savannah-based YMCA of Coastal Georgia in March 2016, but securing a location and turning it into a usable space has taken some time. The Y obtained the former Sallie Zetterower Elementary School building on East Jones Avenue in September on a 99-year lease from limited liability company South Main PTP and local contractor John Lavender. These investors had purchased the eight-acre campus and its more than 50,000 square feet of buildings from the Bulloch County Board of Education for $1 million.

The YMCA had one structure, the “octagonal” classroom building near the gym, demolished to make room for parking and eventually for a proposed YMCA Phase 2 building, which would be built from the ground up.

But for now, the leadership intends to launch the Statesboro Y’s first programs in mid-to-late September or in October in the Phase 1 facility, made from remodeled portions of the old school. The heart of Phase I will be the wellness center, being created by Lavender & Associates, as contactor, from the gym and its two attached classrooms.

The main floor of the wellness center will be occupied by exercise equipment, such as cardio machines and free-weight apparatus, and some TV screens, said Bob Mikell, chair of the Statesboro YMCA Board of Managers.

An administrative office is to be added inside what used to be the gym. The attached classrooms will be used for children of different age ranges in the Child Watch program, “so that when parents are utilizing the Y facilities, they’ll have a place for their children to go,” Mikell said.

The Y’s new front entrance will be on this end, facing a new parking lot Lavender is preparing to pave.


For adults and teens

Also in Phase 1, but outside of Lavender’s contract, the Y plans to transform a few classrooms in one of the school’s two classroom wings, the rooms nearest the gym, into a “fitness boutique.” This will probably include four of the rooms, McGee said. Activities that could be offered there, according to McGee and Mikell, include things such as yoga, Pilates and Zumba.

A teen lounge, where middle and high-school students could hang out and do homework, is also to be created there, the Y leaders said. Foosball tables and computers were mentioned as possible furnishings. One-half or a third of the classroom wing being used as the fitness boutique will probably be separated from the rest of the building by a false wall, and a mural may be painted on the hallway walls, Mikell said.

The local Y board also plans to freshen up the old school’s cafeteria, which is on the other end of the building, as a group activity space.

Since the classroom wing and cafeteria are not in Lavender’s contract, the YMCA leadership plans to do the work in these areas using Y employees, volunteers and possibly task-specific contractors. Cleaning up, painting and installing new floorcoverings will be major parts of this work.

The Statesboro Y’s first employee, a maintenance superintendent who starts work Monday, will help get this done, McGee said.

“If anybody wants to volunteer to help out with some painting projects, cleanup projects, anything like that, we are definitely willing to embrace them and put them to work with our maintenance guy,” she said.

People who are interested in volunteering can email McGee at krystal.mcgee@ymcaofcoastalga or phone her at (912) 547-7104.


Program possibilities

Exactly what programs are offered when the building is ready will depend on the individual talent the Y finds as it recruits part-time instructors, McGee said.

“We’ll have a healthy, group exercise class that will include a variety of things from yoga and Pilates to Zumba, some high-intensity training classes, and it just depends upon what expertise Statesboro and the area provide to us,” she said. “We are excited about the new opportunities.”

Dance and martial arts classes, she said, are also possibilities.

Y classes and fitness center use are generally free of added charge to members, pay annual dues. Some programs, such as Mothers Morning Out, are available to members and non-members for fees, but members pay less, and members pay fees for special services such as being assigned a personal trainer, McGee aid.

But the Y plans to staff the wellness center with regular trainers who will instruct members in the use of the equipment and help them set up a basic plan, she said.

Membership rates and fees are being decided with local input and will be announced before the center opens, she said.

At one point the Statesboro Y’s organizers hoped to open the facility earlier this year. But architectural design work took longer, and the building’s electrical system proved a problem. Mikell mentioned Hurricane Matthew as a contributing factor.

“We spent a lot of time getting the electrical rerouted because some of it was damaged with the hurricane, and so that has been a substantial expense and kind of slowed the construction progress, figuring out what to do about that,” he said.

Lavender started work on the fitness center remodeling in early June, Mikell said. Both he and McGee said they remain optimistic for a September or October opening.

Both also mentioned costs that have exceeded early expectations. The YMCA of Coastal Georgia originally committed to spend about $500,000 toward opening the Statesboro branch with its Phase 1 facility.

“Actually, the price tag is still coming in,” McGee said Thursday. “It’s closer to three-quarters of a million now, but we’re still working through our investment up-front to show the community our commitment.”

After Phase 1 is in operation, YMCA volunteers hope to raise about $1 million in donations through a Statesboro-based capital campaign to fund the Phase 2 construction.

The Statesboro Family Y will also begin annual campaigns, raising money to make its programs available to all families regardless of their ability to pay, McGee said.


Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.




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