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Casper City Council members expressed support for a combined youth boxing and financial literacy center on Tuesday but were wary about committing money to the project.

Local philanthropists, developers and organization leaders requested $1 million and presented plans for the All Americans Center for Youth during the work session at City Hall. The center would be a combined effort of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Wyoming, the Casper Boxing Club and the Natrona County School District along with other community partnerships.

“We’re on board and we’re doing this for the kids, for the community,” said Garvin Westhoff, project superintendent of W.N. McMurry Construction Company.

The 23,148 square-foot steel building is estimated to cost $3.5 million. It will house a boxing club and financial institute on two acres of land south of the main Boys & Girls Club, 1701 East K St.

W.N. McMurry Construction offered to build the structure at cost with no profit to the company, and Mick and Susie McMurry donated the land valued at $400,000.

The McMurrys also said Tuesday they would be willing to match 50 percent of any city funds, and a representative from the Denver-based Daniels Fund said the charitable organization is considering a $1 million donation. The groups are working on building partnerships within the community and aim to break ground this summer, opening in September 2013.

Ashley Bright, chief professional officer for the Boys & Girls Club of Central Wyoming, said his organization would own the property, and the Casper Boxing Club would operate

the boxing center. Bright said organizations are working with the school district to determine operation of the financial literacy center.

Kelly Eastes, chief public relations officer for the Natrona County School District, said the financial center is based on a program in Denver called the Young Americans Center for Financial Education. The center creates an environment for kids to play-act as business owners and entrepreneurs after completing a 90-day course. Eastes said local companies partner with the center and build storefronts for the students to use.

“What the desire is, is for us to utilize all of our local business folks and financial folks to make one that really fits the culture of Casper and central Wyoming,” Eastes said. “To tell you exactly how that’s going to look, we don’t know yet because we’re still designing it.”

The University of Wyoming has already expressed its support and Eastes said he hopes the center and community partnerships would lead to relationships for K-12 students that would carry into their future careers.

While council members supported the idea of enticing “at-risk” students into the financial center through the boxing club, they were unsure about how much the council could fund.

City Attorney Bill Luben said if the council wished to fund the center, he would need to examine the options for municipalities to give money in regard to state regulations.

“There are some aspects we’d have to look at,” he said.

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Reach city reporter Kelly Byer at 307-266-0639 or kelly.byer@trib.com.

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