Having a ball: United Way Grant Writing Initiative helps Windber ballroom vision come to fruition



Photo by Travis Hutzell

Windber Borough Community members celebrate the renovations at The Grand Ballroom on Feb. 26. 




United Way of the Laurel Highlands

The Windber Borough community has a reason to celebrate -- and there's a brand-new ballroom to host the jubilation. 

Officials held a ribbon cutting and open house Feb. 26 to present The Grand Ballroom to the community.

It was a milestone moment, coming two years after a $1 million grant was secured to renovate the historic, early 1900s-era dance hall at Windber Recreation Park.

United Way of the Laurel Highlands grant writer Travis Hutzell helped borough leaders to secure the $1 million state Department of Community and Economic Development Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant to support the cost of the renovation. 

"The Windber Recreation Park Ballroom renovation has transformed the historical space into a functional four-season recreational and event facility located in Somerset County," Hutzell said. "The increased availability of the facility will provide a significant economic boost to our region in the area of event destinations and hospitality."

The facility offers services throughout the year, including weddings, conferences and parties. Officials expect the ballroom to be a key addition to recreation in the region. The park already has a public pool, walking trails and other amenities. 

It's part of the effort at United Way to leverage resources for great community impact. 

“The United Way of the Laurel Highlands Community Grant Writing Initiative has brought in nearly $11 million in funding to support health, education, human services, economic development and crime prevention since its inception in 2015. It’s one of the ways we leverage funding from the annual campaign to ensure a larger regional impact and to create vibrant communities,” United Way President and CEO Karen Struble Myers said.   

Public donations of lumber and other materials helped to finish the work. Designers kept Windber's coal heritage in mind when completing the project, according to reports.