OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - After years of vacancy, the old Ocean Springs armory has reopened. Monday, city leaders unveiled the brand new Ryan Youth Center located on Pine Drive.
The building has sat vacant since it was battered by Hurricane Katrina, more than 10 years ago. But last year, Alderman Bobby Cox decided it needed to be put to good use.
"It's just a passion. I just had to help out and continue to help the kids grow and have something to do here in Ocean Springs. We don't want our kids going out and getting in trouble. If we can have them here and having a good time with an organized program, that's what we're going to do," said Cox.
Over the past 22 months, hundreds of volunteers, including local Navy Seabees, spent countless hours transforming the arms depot into a gym. Alderman Cox said they did a fundraiser in 2015 and raised $12,000 for renovation costs. But it was the dedication of special volunteers like Gary Noble, that kept the project going.
"Just look at those kids over there playing basketball right now. And there's a volleyball court, a youth center, scouts can come in here and have pine wood derby's, girl scout cookies, church groups, pickup games. It's endless what could go on in the building in the future," said Noble.
The center is named after brothers Glen and Walter Ryan, lifelong residents of Ocean Springs who served as broadcasters for the Ocean Springs High School Football team. For 44 years, they sacrificed their Friday nights to support the teams, and together became known as the "Voice of the Greyhounds."