Percy and Janice Mounteer will lead the way with the new Boys and Girls Club of Huntington.
Emery County is an unlikely place in all of our country where anyone would expect to see young people in trouble. Family values run deep in the fabric of the citizens of Huntington and Emery County. Mining, farming, small rural clusters of generations of hard workers with solid community bonds dominate the people of Emery County and Huntington City at its core. Emery County has seen hard times with recent mine disasters tearing at the lives of its people with dire and horrible loss of human life. Emery County has and is experiencing losses from our Nations economic recession. Businesses are stressed financially and some are barely able to survive. Others fail. Folks here are also losing their homes, jobs and security as is happening throughout America. Families are under unprecedented stress.
The leaders and citizens of Emery and its adjacent neighbor, Carbon County has seen a disturbing trend over the past few years. High school dropouts have increased; young families have been dissolving at an alarming rate of divorce. Drug use and alcohol addiction has reached nearly 30 percent of the Carbon and Emery county population with all manner of disastrous results. The children of our community are threatened with uncertain futures as our spiritual values decline.
In all of this, a bright light shines. Just like the early spirit that drove our pioneers to tame this great land, that spirit still lives in many of our citizens who refuse to be defeated. Percy and Janice Mounteer are a part of that story.
A few years ago two of the three theaters in Emery County were torn down and not replaced. Percy and Janice acquired the last theater, now the "Star Theate" (next door to the Star Grill). After some renovation, Huntington now has the new Star Theatre that seats 176 people. Their dream was and still is, to see The Star Theatre used for live plays and community event attractions including films.
A few years later, Percy and Janice acquired The Star Grill in downtown Huntington across from the elementary school. They added an Amusement Hall beside the grill in a turn-of-the-century bank building. The renovation included a bandstand, all kinds of arcade games, pool tables and a snack bar. The up-stairs mezzanine was converted into meeting rooms and a study hall. The mezzanine is a location for many computers. Kids started to hang-out at "The Star". Janice cooked and Percy spent his time with the kids. Because of their love, personal sacrifice, and providing kids a safe place to be, many of those kids were encouraged to get their lives straightened out and went on to be productive citizens.
Something else began to happen at The Star Grill. Seniors Citizens who had nowhere else to go began to also "hang-out" at the grill. Because the Star Grill is attached to the Amusement Hall, the seniors and the kids began to form a relationship. Any Wednesday night at the dinner hour, you can find an audience of seniors and youth applauding the band, sing, act and perform to their attentive audience. The Star has become a happening place in downtown Huntington.
Nearly 25 years ago, Percy and Janice purchased their farm which included two ponds near Huntington. Both ponds have several varieties of fish; they brought in a small herd of deer, llamas, goats and other animals. Recreation abounded with swimming, camping, fishing and ice-skating in the winter. All children and especially those with disabilities were and continue to be welcome to Percy's ponds and ranch. From their beginning Percy and Janice have shared their possessions with everyone who had a need, especially children who had nowhere to go. Percy and Janice have fostered more than 20 children together with raising their two birth children.
The Mounteers are entering a new phase in their brand of service. The Boys and Girls Club of Huntington is born. As of Oct. 1, Percy and Janice have announced that the Star Grill, the Amusement Center and the Star Theatre will be taken over by the Boys and Girls Club of America ("BGC" of Huntington Chapter). A new non-profit corporation is being formed with 11 new board members from the community, and an impressive advisory board. The Executive Co-directors are Percy and Janice (of course). Their vision over the years, their hard work and love for the kids of Huntington and the disabled community and the seniors of Huntington demanded this outcome.
As always, Percy and Janice have "big plans" for the BGC of Huntington. Thomas Mullins, a VISTA Volunteer with Active Re-Entry in Price has become a facilitator for the BGC of Huntington project. The plan is to have three or four new VISTA Volunteers assigned to the BGC of Huntington by early 2010. With full time VISTA help, expertise, experience and energy brought alongside Percy and Janice, they will have additional assistance to fulfill their dream for the kids of Huntington.
Several sub-clubs within BGC of Huntington will also be formed to accommodate the children. A chess club, a photography club, a cooking club, an aviation club, a computer club, and especially a performing arts club are planned plus several others. Kids and adult activities are being formed. Learning restaurant cooking and serving, planting a large community garden, fishing, campfires at the ponds, study, mentor tutoring, time and play activities with seniors and kids are just some of the planned activities.
Plays performed by local talent, both kids and adults will be scheduled at the theater in addition to first run feature film shows. Percy and Janice envision a regular weekly dinner theater. Kids will be given the chance to write plays, build stage sets, costumes, act, direct, perform, learn stage lighting, and sound as Percy and Janice open the BGC for use by the Emery County School District (head offices across the street from the Star Grill). A theater manager also is planned for the theater.
Many fund-raisers in addition to private and public grants are in the planning stages. A fishing contest at Percy's ponds, a chess tournament, theater guest performances, spelling bees, Saturday farmers market in the parking lot, Christmas Craft fair, are to name only a few of many on-going fund raising activities. Donations are 501c3 IRS deductible at this time.
Stop by the Star Grill for a great meal, old-fashioned malt or some popcorn or just a cup of coffee with Percy and Janice. Share your ideas, volunteer and donate if you can.