THERE’S NO OTHER way to put it: 2016 has been a nightmare for the Marquette County YMCA.
Lawsuits filed against it. The CEO fired. Dozens of bills, totaling more than $5 million, unpaid. Staff laid off, programs cut. The Board of Volunteers dwindling to a mere five members (bylaws call for between 11 and 25 members).
Trust between the Y and the community was violated and almost lost.
If you look to the horizon, you might see a few bright rays of sunshine. A new day may be dawning. The nightmare may be ending.
An executive for the national YMCA, Daryl Sieplinga, has just left town after helping to arrange for (a) the imminent resignation of the current five member board, (b) the set-up of a committee to nominate members for a new Board, and (c) finally, a YMCA members meeting on December 7 to vote for a new board.
December 7th. Mark that down if you’re one of the 5000 YMCA members in Marquette County. You can help chart the course for the new YMCA.
It’s do-able, but it won’t be easy because….
- The US Department of Agriculture is still owed $3 million (with interest accruing) for the Y’s ill-advised and overly ambitious building program. The good news? The USDA is willing to give the Y some time to figure things out, it wants the other, smaller bills paid first, and it doesn’t want to shut the Y down. The bad news? It’s not going to forgive the debt.
- There are other debts out there–big and small. Some, thanks to recent donations, have been paid off, but many others remain. And some of them have lots of zeros in them.
- Two lawsuits against the YMCA–again with lots of zeros–remain unsettled.
On the other hand, there is hope because…
- It looks like the Y is about to sell off one of its ill-advised purchases–the Child Development Center on Wright Street. A purchase agreement has been reached.
- Bills are being paid off, and creditors are showing admirable forbearance.
- Several former and founding Board members–many of them heavyweights in the community–have rallied to the cause of saving the Y.
- A new Board, which could still include some of the truly dedicated and plugged-in members of the current Board, will be elected on December 7th, and take over on January 1st.
- The interim CEO, Jenna Zdunek, who had nothing to do with creating the Y’s current mess and has done an admirable job in dealing with it over the last several months, says she’s open to taking over on a permanent basis when the new Board takes office. She’s been offered the permanent gig but so far has resisted taking it because…well, who wants to be in charge of a nightmare?
But it’s a new day. Time to wake up. Time to take on the challenges and reclaim the YMCA of Marquette County.
AND IT’S A new day for Gopher’s Bakery downtown.
It’s finally opening today (Saturday) at 9 am.
It left its old location on Third Street several weeks ago with the intention of opening October 1st.
But then it ran into problems with health officials and the city because of venting requirements, and things got delayed. Imagine that: a business opening delayed because of government regulations.
But Thursday, the owners finally got the go-ahead.
So on Saturday, you may pick up some new and welcome aromas on West Washington Street. Along with a few calories.
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