The Harmar Community Center has garnered some press coverage.  Read on.

June 11, 2012 - The Marietta Times

Community center good news for Harmar and the city

Congratulations to everyone involved in making the Harmar Community Center a reality. The facility opened Friday, culminating months of hard work that transformed the former Magnetic Specialty Inc. business at 307 Lancaster St. into what it is today.

First and foremost, thanks go to the Murphy family, which donated the building that used to house a business started by Gary Murphy and his late father, Ralph.

Understandably, those who worked on the project are proud of what's been accomplished.

Barry Taylor, project chairman for the renovation, couldn't resist giving a tour to some athletes representing the Cleveland Browns who were in town for a Browns Backers golf event. Taylor is a proud member of the Browns Backers.

Level Contracting of Marietta served as general contractor for the work and discounted many of its costs so the work could be done.

The center houses the Boys and Girls Club. It's opening just in time for the club to launch its summer activities, which begin today. Youths will experience a mix of indoor and outdoor activities and take field trips.

Also available at the center is an adult learning center to help people earn their GED, a resume building area, and a computer so students can come in to do their homework once school resumes.

All in all, it's great to see the center open and its location in the Harmar neighborhood is especially gratifying to those involved in its construction.

© Copyright 2012 Marietta Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

May 13, 2012 - The Marietta Times - Ashley Rittenhouse

Harmar Community Center to open

MARIETTA - As officials with the Harmar Community Center prepare for its grand opening, they have organized a fundraiser allowing donors to have a room named in their honor or to have a name placed on a rocking chair on the center's front porch.

According to Mary Ann Von Ville, executive director of the Harmar Community Center at 307 Lancaster St. in Marietta, its grand opening will be held at noon June 8.

"It's open to the public and because it's the lunch hour we'll have light food and conduct tours of the building," she said.

The Harmar Community Center is located at the former home of Magnetic Specialty Inc. It has been empty for about seven years and crews have been working there daily for months to get it ready for the center.

The building was donated by the family of Ralph Murphy, who passed away in February at the age of 89. He and his son, Gary, owned Magnetic Specialty Inc. and gave the property to the community center's board in September. The family has also made contributions toward the completion of the massive project.

Von Ville said the first phase of the project will be completed in time for the June 8 opening. That phase includes the opening of the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County, an adult learning center and a multipurpose room.

"Once the money is paid to cover all of that phase, then we have a roof to take care of and we'll move to phase two which is the gym, locker room and commercial kitchen," Von Ville said.

Von Ville said it's not clear at this point what the total cost of phase two will be or when it will start. She said the first phase cost about $300,000 and the board is working to raise $150,000 needed to pay back money borrowed to complete that phase.

Currently, the board is selling plaques to be placed on rocking chairs that will sit on the center's front porch. Von Ville said for $1,000 a person can have their own name or that of a loved one placed on a plaque.

She pointed out it would be a unique gift for Mother's Day, Father's Day or Memorial Day.

"It would be a great way to honor a veteran, especially if they're from here, it would be a great way for people to come here and see that," Von Ville said.

The board is also naming rooms in the center after donors.

Von Ville said the cost for a person to have a room named after themselves or a loved one ranges from $2,500 to $10,000.

"The McDonough Foundation gave us a $50,000 grant so we're naming the main room of the Boys & Girls Club the McDonough Room," she noted.

Von Ville said there are seven rooms available to be named and the board hopes to sell plaques for 13 rocking chairs.

Those who can't donate thousands of dollars are also encouraged to do so, Von Ville said.

"Every single donation from $100 to $10,000 and more will be recognized," she said. "If every family in Marietta would adopt one nonprofit and every month send a donation, those nonprofits wouldn't have to ask for money."

Von Ville added the project would not be possible without monetary donations and in-kind labor, such as that being provided by Best Landscaping.

Sam Anderson, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County, said the club's summer program begins June 11 and registration is currently under way.

She said it will be exciting to move the club from its current location at 123 Greene St. to the Harmar Community Center.

"I am looking forward to it," Anderson said. "It's bigger - not quite twice as big, but almost."

© Copyright 2012 Marietta Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

June 9, 2012 - The Marietta Times - Evan Bevins

Harmar Community Center opens

Providing a new home for the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County may have been the impetus for the creation of the Harmar Community Center, but the facility is meant to be a resource to people of all ages.

"I just want everybody that passes up these steps and through these doors to feel at home," said Gary Murphy, president of the center's board, during a grand opening celebration Friday.

Murphy and his family donated the 307 Lancaster St. building that once housed Magnetic Specialty Inc., a business he started with his father, the late Ralph Murphy, to the community center board. An extensive renovation project that began last year has converted space at the former industrial site into rooms for Boys & Girls Club activities, community room and an adult learning center to provide help with GED studies, resume-building and more.

Barry Taylor, building chairman for the board, apologized to the crowd of more than 100 people Friday because the first phase wasn't totally finished, with some facade work and other odds and ends still to be completed. Nobody seemed to mind, with many of those in attendance marveling at the building's transformation from a year ago.

"It's nice to see we're bringing one back," said Marietta City Council President Walt Brothers. "I just love to see these old places recycled and turned into something people can use again."

On the eve of the annual River Rats Browns Backers golf tournament, Taylor, a member of the group, brought several former NFL players, most of them ex-Cleveland Browns, to the event. Anthony Griggs, a Browns linebacker in the 1980s, had looked at the facility before work began and was impressed with what he saw Friday.

"Phenomenal, just the transformation," he said.

Taylor said the change was made possible by volunteers and local businesses who contributed materials, labor and discounted services. Level Contracting of Marietta served as general contractor for the project and gave the board a break on their prices, said owner Steve McBride.

"They all worked for sometimes peanut wages," Taylor said.

McBride said the work was beneficial to them as well, since he's trying to get his company's name out in the community. He also praised the efforts of volunteers, including the Gospel Mission, the building's first tenants, in getting the work done.

"They really helped us out when things were kind of tough," McBride said.

The shrubbery that once stood in front of the building is gone and a new front porch has been installed with eight rocking chairs on it, each bearing a memorial nameplate. Center executive director Mary Ann VonVille noted they still have other memorial rocking chairs available for $1,000 donations. The naming rights to several rooms in the center are also available, to help support the center.

The Boys & Girls Club, which had been operating its after-school program in a rented building at 123 Greene St. will kick off its summer activities Monday. Executive director Sam Anderson said children will participate in indoor and outdoor activities, take a field trip once a week and welcome guest speakers.

"There's a big smorgasbord of things," she said.

VonVille noted there is a computer room off the main Boys & Girls Club area for students to work on homework when school starts up again.

"There's a great connection between the Boys & Girls Club and the classroom," she said.

© Copyright 2012 Marietta Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.