Robin Gates was a logical choice as executive director at Westmont Hilltop Recreation Commission because she was already familiar with some of the players – literally.

As former Windber Borough administrative assistant, Gates was instrumental in running that community’s basketball program.

“We felt she could just step in,” commission Chairman Lee Williamson said.

“She was already familiar with Windber, East Hills (Recreation Commission) and Westmont programs.”

In fact, basketball leagues and other programs sometimes have teams, coaches and players move among the three organizations.

Although Gates said she misses Windber and the people she worked with for 12 years, she looks forward to focusing on recreation in her new position.

“I have lots of big plans,” Gates said in her office at The Grove gymnasium. “I want to start a summer day camp like they had in Windber. The children will have a place to go.”

Following the same theme used at her former employers’ program, the West Hills Day Camp would meet daily for about 10 weeks through the summer, catering to those age 5 to 12.

“It’s educational, but fun activities, with a different theme every week,” Gates said.

Roller hockey leagues for youth and adults, a wrestling clinic for elementary and middle school children and an outdoor soccer program for elementary pupils are all on her radar.

“That’s what we wanted,” Williamson said. “She has plans that would double the programs. Our programs have been down over the past few years.”

Gates’ experience as an administrator should help expand the opportunities, he added.

Unlike Windber Borough, where council has put the community on notice that it will not use taxpayer money to fund recreation, Westmont recreation programs have financial support from Westmont and Southmont boroughs, Upper Yoder Township and the Westmont Hilltop School District.

“We have a huge operating cushion,” said Williamson, who also serves on Westmont Borough Council. “We want to give back to the community. That’s what they pay us to do. How can you lose on recreation? That is just an extension of the municipal services.”

Gates has already met with school district leaders and plans to stop by each municipality in coming weeks.

“That’s what I was trying to do in Windber,” Gates said, recalling discussions with leaders from Scalp Level and Paint boroughs, Paint and Ogle townships and Windber School District.

After the controversial elimination of Gates’ job on Nov. 10, council entered discussions with East Hills Recreation Commission about a cooperative program at Windber Recreation Park.

Westmont Hilltop Recreation Commission operates the gymnasium, picnic grounds and recreation courts at The Ridge at 1000 Edgehill Drive; more picnic and recreation facilities and a lodge at The Grove; and a five-acre park off Menoher Highway in Upper Yoder. There are also The Mound, Diamond Boulevard, Elim Street, Goucher Street, Westmont Hilltop High School and Stutzman playgrounds and Engh, Southmont, Elim and The Mound fields.

Gates replaces Dave Roman, who resigned in June.

Trending Video

Recommended for you