New leadership to steer Tyrone YMCA

The Tyrone YMCA Board of Directors has a new Executive Committee and three new members have been announced following its most recent meeting. Taking over the helm of the beleaguered organization are President Laura Burghard, Vice President Linda Hershey and Treasurer Dave Russell. They replace President John Harlow, Vice President Mike Blaska and Treasurer Linda Strong, who were asked to step down at a work session meeting, attended by concerned residents on August 15.
All three had either resigned or had been voted from the Board as of this past Wednesday, a move that Burghard said was necessary given the YMCA’s recently discovered tax delinquencies.
“That’s what the public wanted,” Burghard said. “There was overwhelming support at the Tuesday meeting for a change in leadership.”
Burghard was referring to the public meeting of August 13 that was facilitated by YMCA Director Amy Hampton. Almost 100 people were on hand and they asked a lot of questions — questions that could not be answered by Hampton, and had not been answered by the Board.
Those in attendance showed overwhelming support for the YMCA, but many also wanted to know how federal and state payroll taxes could have gone unpaid as far back as 1999. Hampton, who brought the matter to the attention of the Board of Directors after a conversation with the non-profit’s accountant, John Ramsey, said that it was unclear who made the decision not to pay the taxes. While the crowd didn’t want to point fingers, the question of responsibility was echoed throughout the evening. There was more than one call for Board members to step down.
One question that was repeated throughout the hour long meeting was, “How can we be sure this won’t happen again?” Burghard said this question and those like it were the impetus behind the restructuring. With the new leadership, Burghard said the process of rebuilding and garnering the public’s truct can move forward in a positive direction. She said they have already hired a bookkeeper that is trained in accounting.
Hershey agreed. “The Board that we have right now is moving forward with a positive attitude,” she said Friday. “We are looking to cut costs. The public wants to hear of a plan of action, so we are going to meet weekly to examine what needs to happen in order for the YMCA to be financially solid.”
Both Burghard and Hershey noted that not everyone needs to donate money. “Anyone who wants to donate their time, paper products, supplies — every little bit helps,” Burghard said.
YMCA Director Amy Hampton said Friday afternoon that the focus of the organization’s problems has shifted in recent days, a development she noted was counterproductive.
“I’m not going to be dragged into a campaign in a popularity contest and I’m not going to get into mudslinging,” Hampton said. “I was hired to do a job and that was to run the ‘Y’ like a business.”
Hampton said that there were a number of positive developments since the crisis was made public. Those developments include a $10,000 grant that is being pursued by the office of Lt. Governor/Senator Robert Jubelirer, a “Gas-A-Thon” at a local Sheetz (initiated by Mike Blaska), the upcoming “Backyard Brawl” Italian Buffet sponsored by the Tyrone Kiwanis Club as well as support from the Downtown Merchants, a “Soup-off” at Burley’s Restaurant and a possible benfit concert by a barbershop quartet.
“Snyder Township has also made a donation, plus all the support that has already poured in from the area,” she added. “It’s a credit to the people of Tyrone and Northern Blair County.” Hampton even pointed out that she received a $14 donation from a local resident, obviously inspired by Dan Meckes’s challenge.
“Three strong candidates were brought on and have accepted positions on the Board,” she said. “Pete Dutrow, Rev. Norman Huff and David Sneath will coming aboard.
Burghard said nearly $10,000 has been donated to help pay the nearly $70,000 in back taxes.”There are many people, organizations and businesses that are doing special events to help us,” she added.
Hampton said that recent articles in The Daily Herald have not detered her from pushing forward. “Good business decisions are usually not the most popular ones,” she said. “Questions were raised in Friday’s Daily Herald that insinuate the Board change was a personal vendetta and that I am looking to be the one who ‘save’ the ‘Y’. It is obvious from the former president’s resignation letter that it was definetly personal. Why, only he knows.
“It is ridiculous to think that any one person can save the ‘Y’,” she continued. “Only the people who are willing to make the changes that are necessary and the people of this community can save the ‘Y’.”