The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 14, 2013

Lofty goal in Portage | Resident shooting for boro hockey rink

JOHNSTOWN — Portage’s Don Wyar is pursuing a dream. Not for himself or for his family, but for the youth of his community.

We’re guessing we’re not the only ones rooting for Wyar as he leads an effort to have a hockey rink built at the borough’s longtime recreation spot, Crichton-McCormick Park.

“Our main goal is to basically take these kids off the street,” he told our Justin Dennis last week. “Not only to give them something to do but to show what teamwork is about and playing with others.”

Wyar’s is a lofty goal indeed – $120,000 – but what is particularly laudable is that his organization, Portage Area Youth Association, isn’t simply waiting for a handout of taxpayer dollars.

A fundraising campaign is under way while grant money is being sought.  

“The facility’s definitely needed in this community and definitely wanted,” he said. “Right now we’re playing inside tennis courts.”

While interest in youth hockey in communities and in high schools has grown in leaps and bounds, the number of hockey rinks to accommodate the rising numbers hasn’t. Ice time to fill practice and game requests often puts area youth on skates anywhere from early in the morning until very late at night.

Wyar said he has played hockey since he was 4 years old, so he is well aware of the area’s need for more rinks. His association is working with local contractor Everything Ice in hopes of putting a facility in Portage.

“We’ve been talking to the kids and they’re pretty hyped up,” Wyar said. “We try to tell them it’s a long shot and it’s going to take some time to get the funds up for the arena.”

Accomplishing those types of goals is never easy and often starts with a dream. We urge area residents to step up and help out financially, realizing that another ice hockey rink would benefit far more than 30 or 40 youngsters from Portage.

How to help

Those interested in contributing to a hockey rink at Crichton-McCormick Park can send pledges to: 1st Summit Bank, Attn: PAYA/Hockey Division, 924 Main St., Portage, Pa. 15946.

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