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Originally published: 2012-09-12 10:32:45
Last modified: 2012-09-12 10:32:45

Could a YMCA open in Watauga?

by Anna Oakes

High Country Recreation, a new nonprofit, will host an informational meeting on the prospect of bringing a YMCA to Watauga County on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 5:30 p.m. at the Watauga Medical Center auditorium in Boone.

Bob Conklin, president and CEO of the Catawba Valley YMCA, will discuss the process of opening a YMCA recreational facility in a community.

“We see some sort of recreational facility as a huge need,” said Scott St. Clair, president of High Country Recreation. “Without a county public option out there, we wanted to help the further the conversation.”

The Watauga County Parks and Recreation Department has identified an indoor recreation center as a top priority for years, but a 2010 referendum on a quarter-cent sales tax increase to fund a center was defeated by a 2 to 1 margin.

This isn’t the first time the Boone community has conversations about bringing a YMCA to town, St. Clair noted — Conklin has a folder dating to 1996 with past communications on the topic.

“It’s going to take money and funding to make it happen. That hasn’t happened in the past. I’m not sure all the different reasons why,” said St. Clair. “It seems like it’s a good fit for the community.”

High Country Recreation formed in the past year, St. Clair said.

“We’re really trying to be an advocate for looking for ways to improve recreational opportunities and infrastructure,” he said.

And working with YMCA is far from being High Country Recreation’s only initiative, he emphasized.

The organization has established a website,, that serves as a clearinghouse of information about area recreational activities — from cycling and playgrounds to running events and yoga. A member of High Country Recreation called a “champion” is responsible for keeping the calendar for each recreational activity up to date on the website.

The board meets every three months.

For more information, visit or search for the group on Facebook.