MARION

A memento of HD Youth Center lives on in Marion Youth Center

Center set to open this fall

Jerry Loomis, who works for Cedar Rapids Billiards, removes the pocket from a pool table at the HD Youth Center in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. The HD Youth Center closed. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Jerry Loomis, who works for Cedar Rapids Billiards, removes the pocket from a pool table at the HD Youth Center in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. The HD Youth Center closed. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — At 375 pounds apiece, the three slate slabs each took two college football players to carry.

They lifted them off a solid poplar base Wednesday, shuffling past detached top rails and corner pockets, and hauled the pool table out of the HD Youth Center, which closed in March after the death of its founder, Henry Davison.

Once kept in a bar, the cigarette ash-stained table was well-used at the youth center, said Steve Springer, chairman of the center’s board.

“It gives it personality to be banged up in the right way,” he said. “I told kids when they were down here, you’ll never play on a table like this. They don’t make them like this anymore.”

A makeshift “Pool Table Newsletter” still was hung on the shuttered center’s wall, inviting children and teenagers to sign up for pool lessons with Springer.

The billiards table was donated to and reassembled at the Marion Youth Center, which is scheduled to open in the fall. Springer hopes young people there will continue trying their hands at pool — and, maybe, take a few lessons from him.

“In all sincerity, it’s one really nice way to carry on Henry’s legacy for a little bit longer,” said John Tursi, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Cedar Rapids. “I knew him well and know how much it meant for him to give kids a safe, fun place to be.”

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The Boys & Girls Club will provide base programming to about 50 fifth- and sixth-graders at the Marion Youth Center, 440 S. 15th St., which used to house the Marion Home School Assistance Program.

With support from the City of Marion, Tursi said the new center hopes to eventually serve children as young as 5 to high schoolers.

The HD Youth Center’s board is shedding its assets — the building, 1445 Mount Vernon Rd. SE, is listed for sale with Skogman Commercial Group — as board members establish the Henry Davison Scholarship Fund.

Davison, a strong advocate for Cedar Rapids youths, died in February.

Other furniture from the HD Center — including pingpong, foosball and computer tables — has been similarly scattered among remaining after-school programs in the area.

The heft of the table made it impossible to pass on without the help of volunteers from the Coe College football program and Cedar Rapids Billiards, which sells and services pool tables.

“You guys ready for a workout?” Don Kucera, the billiards shop owner, asked four Kohawk linemen when they arrived around 8 a.m. to move the table.

The student-athletes, who didn’t have class Wednesday ahead of final exams, are used to volunteering in the offseason, they said.

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“The slate’s heavier than expected,” Blake Owens said. “But we handled it.”

Opened in 1997 as a safe place for students after school, the HD Youth Center shut its doors because of low enrollment and the high cost of operation. In its final months, fewer than 10 students used the facility per day on average.

“Count your losses and push on,” Springer said, noting the board still is setting criteria for scholarship recipients and navigating the legal requirements of the fund’s creation. “That’s really what we’re doing.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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