The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

December 6, 2012

YMCA celebrates 125 years, dedicates peace pole

OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa YMCA celebrated 125 years in the city on Wednesday and declared the center an International Peace Site.

“As a Y executive, there are times during your career that are really exciting to go through,” said Tom Sisler, executive director of the Y. “Stuff like this doesn’t happen all the time.”

Harold “Corky” Stevens, Kirby McDowell and Katherine Ross unveiled a peace pole at a dedication ceremony at the Y Wednesday afternoon.

There are four sides to the pole. One side is blank, something “to grow into,” Sisler said. Two sides say “May peace prevail on Earth” — one in English and one in Spanish. The final side says “May peace be in our homes and in our communities.”

“We are now registered as a peace site,” Sisler said. “We are one of more than 200,000 peace poles around the world saying just that we believe in peace. There’s no hidden agenda.”

Sisler said he hopes it becomes a “living peace pole,” a gathering place for people throughout the community to reflect.

“Isn’t this a great time when we can bring more peace into our lives?” he said. “I hope it brings some peace to Ottumwa in whatever way it’s needed. That means different things to different people.”

One “awesome” thing about the Y, Sisler said, is that wherever it’s located, it has a common mission, though each Y tailors their mission to the needs of the community.

“We are one of the railroad Ys,” Sisler said. “When people were moving west, Ys were set up on the railroads for an affordable, safe place for young men, at that time, to stay.”

On July 18, 1887, a group of men gathered in T. D. Foster’s home to begin forming the Ottumwa Y, and exactly one month later, the Ottumwa Y was chartered.

Three years later, the first Y was built at West Second and South Washington Streets. In 1902, they added a gymnasium, swimming pool and dormitories.

After a fire, the building was rebuilt in 1921 and didn’t move until 1970, when a new building was constructed at its current location, 611 Hancock St. In 1991, the Y added a new gymnasium and early childhood development center.

In 2003, the Y constructed a 2,700-square-foot fitness studio, bringing the building to its current footprint of 35,100 square feet.

“The Y is different things to different people,” said Jeff Logan, YMCA board president.

Stevens, known to everyone as “Corky,” said he grew up in the Y “years and years and years ago.”

“In the basement they had cages with the workout clothes,” Stevens said. “I worked down there for my membership, which at the time was $7.50 a year.”

He was part of the Hi-Y Club as a young man — “you had to be invited to join,” he said — which was a support group for the Y and got to plan Homecoming events.

After leaving Ottumwa to serve in the Marine Corps and go to college, he returned in 1966 to teach history and coach at Ottumwa High School.

“After I retired in 1989, I joined the Y,” he said.

He became part of the Y’s Mens Club, which helped do fundraising for the Y, especially during a time when the Y “was in dire straits,” he said.

“We weren’t sure whether it would be able to stay open or not,” he said. “But the directors now, Tom and Kathy [Sisler], have done a terrific job.”

There are now more than 22 million Y members in more than 150 countries, Sisler said. The Ottumwa Y is dedicated to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, and this dedication gives his staff a chance to “re-dedicate themselves” to those goals.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Earth day color photo 1 -T -M Cargill celebrates Earth Day by educating ALBIA — In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, employees from Cargill Eddyville and Cargill Pork are visiting with students at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Center in Albia all this week. On Wednesday the Courier caught up with them as they went

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • 0417 OTT Saving Center color photo -T -L -M Hedrick building has friends HEDRICK — The community wants a civic center, and they've been willing to work for it. "I'd say we have 15 to 25 volunteers each time," Tommy Smith of Hedrick said. "These are all good people." Smith was volunteering his services at the Easter Brunch

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Southern Iowa farmers preparing for planting OTTUMWA — Even though the winter seemed to linger like Iowa was going through an ice age and cold and wet weather has highlighted the early spring, farmers are starting to get out to their fields to put down fertilizer and get fields ready for planti

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Carrying bookbags a balancing act OTTUMWA — Permission slips. Notes from teachers. School activity announcements, birthday invitations, report cards and homework to sign. Kids bring home a lot of stuff. But is it done fairly? The school board this week was asked by ranking members of

    April 16, 2014

  • Van Buren supervisors deny hog confinement permit application KEOSAUQUA — A proposed swine building in Chequest Township didn’t receive a seal of approval from Van Buren County Board of Supervisors. Supervisors voted Monday to recommend to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to deny the permit. Supervisor

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Beth Howard bw cover -L -T -M 'Ms. American Pie' tours with her new book ELDON — With many hours and countless miles on her RV "The Beast," Eldon's pie lady, Beth Howard, is celebrating the release of her new book with a tour of southwestern states. Howard's second book, "Ms. American Pie: Buttery Good Pie Recipes and Bol

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Van Buren to share FFA with Harmony KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren Community School Board approved a recommendation from its administration to share the ag program with Harmony for the 2014-15 school year. The decision means that Van Buren students would travel to Harmony to receive ag instruct

    April 16, 2014

  • Attorney withdraws after client disappears OTTUMWA — Authorities are still looking for an Ottumwa man who didn’t show up for court proceedings. When they find him, he’ll need a new attorney. Jacob Nordyke faces charges of interference with official acts and possession of drug paraphernalia. H

    April 16, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook
E-edition