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March 27, 2013

Ransom pledges $1 million to YMCA project

GREENVILLE — Dr. Jerry Ransom really believes in the proposed YMCA/event center.

Ransom announced during Tuesday’s Greenville City Council meeting that he would donate $1 million to the project if it meets the approval of local voters in May.

“My pledge is just part of the formalization process,” Ransom told the Council, as he asked for the passage of a resolution of support.

The Council in turn approved the resolution by a unanimous vote,  joining the Hunt County Commissioners Court which passed a similar resolution earlier Tuesday.

The board of the Greenville Independent School District was scheduled to also consider a resolution of support during its Tuesday night meeting.

“The contribution being made is significant,” said City Manager Steven Alexander, perhaps by way of understatement.

“Thank you Dr. Ransom,” said Hunt County Court at Law No. 1 Judge Andrew Bench, who serves on the YMCA board. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Kelly Gaudreau, executive director at the Greenville/Hunt County YMCA, also wanted to express his appreciation, not only for the pledge, but for Ransom’s active support of the project.

“Without his leadership, this really would not be here,” Gaudreau said.

Ransom said he was pledging to pay 10 annual installments of $100,000 each. When combined with similar pledges from other community partners, the funds are expected to reduce the overall taxpayer burden — from the previously estimated 7 cents per $100 valuation to 3 cents — which Gaudreau estimated would cost less than $24 per year for an average homeowner.

Ransom said he also wanted to clear up what he believed were some misconceptions about the proposal.

“First and foremost, this is a YMCA,” Ransom said, again urging the Council to appoint building and management committees for the project and adding that his pledge is contingent upon positive recommendations from both committees for the city to proceed with the effort.

“To make sure, for one, that the building has a 40-year horizon,” Ransom said of the need to construct a quality facility, whereas the management committee would make sure that the center was operated properly.

“If it is managed correctly, it can become a profit center,” Ransom said.

Ransom was the chairman of the committee which presented the proposal for the YMCA/event center  to the Council, which then voted to add it to the May 11 ballot.

“I believe this will be very positive for our community, so I hope it passes,” he said.

The Council’s resolution included the condition that it appoint the committees requested by Ransom, should the measure pass.

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