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Sen. Blunt stumps in Vandalia

Posted on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 2:05 pm

Sen. Blunt addresses members of a CPR class at the Vandalia YMCA. Photo by Stan Schwartz.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., on a break from his usual duties in Washington crisscrossed the state Saturday to tour the flood damage in Clarksville, to tour the new YMCA facility in Vandalia, and to give the commencement speech at Westminster College.

A crowd of more than two-dozen people greeted Blunt at the recently completed Eastern Missouri Family YMCA facility in Vandalia. What once had been the town’s local library—in a less than ideal building—was transformed into a place where local residents can come and workout.

Manager Debbie Hopke, and Audrain County Eastern Commissioner Alan Winders welcomed Blunt to the facility’s Y-Cafe.

Winders let Blunt know the incredible effort put forth by the people of Vandalia to get the new YMCA built. The land belonged to the city, and much effort was put into getting the funding for construction. Through donations and loans the facility was completed this year, having its grand opening Feb. 9.

Blunt asked about what the YMCA was going to do for young people now that schools were getting out for the summer. Hopke said they had numerous programs for children, and Lori Brandon, chief executive officer of the Mexico Area Family YMCA, said the YMCA also talked about programs that would provide meals to children who need them.

After the brief meeting with the residents, Hopke and Brandon gave Blunt a tour of the facility.

As reported before in the Leader, eight years of hard work from YMCA Project volunteers, along with the combined efforts of city and county officials and organizations, wenr into getting the Eastern Missouri Family YMCA up and running for the community.

Winders noted last year that the Vandalia Recreation Corp., was created to move the YMCA Project forward.

Last year he said it was also up the community to get the help with getting the facility operational. That required­­–in addition to funding and donations, that people volunteer their time, as well as joining the YMCA.

He noted that it would be up to Vandalia and the surrounding communities to make the project a success.

Groundbreaking for the YMCA was held last year.

The facility has about 18,000-square feet of space and cost about $1.6 million.

The Vandalia Recreation Corp. wanted to replace the former library building. Early plans for the project had it sharing space with the a library.

The county’s library district chose a different route that led to it’s new facility being constructed just across Main Street from the YMCA facility.

Architect for the project was Bill Howell, and construction was done by Tony Grove of Grove Construction.

Also instrumental in the progect were the Rual Morris Foundation, the Consolidated Electric board, the Vandalia Recreation Corporation, the City of Vandalia, Vandalia Chamber of Commerce, among others. Also, those local people who donated to the project were recognized for their generocity.