He keeps 46,000 people moving in York, Lancaster, Chester counties. Now he’ll move on

A man who did as much to get people moving in York County as anyone, is moving on himself.

Frank “Moe” Bell announced he’ll retire from the Upper Palmetto YMCA on July 4, 2020. The long-time CEO has been with Upper Palmetto for 44 of his 47 years working.

“Our YMCA staff and volunteer team have strengthened the very foundation of this community by bringing incredible programs and services to so many,” said Bell, who is 68.

Upper Palmetto covers sites in Rock Hill, Fort Mill, York, Chester, Lancaster, Clover and Lake Wylie. A new one is coming to Indian Land. Bell started as CEO in 1991. Since, Upper Palmetto grew from two to 15 branches and from 3,000 to 46,000 members.

Upper Palmetto is the largest YMCA in South Carolina. It’s the largest afterschool childcare provider in York, Lancaster or Chester counties.

A search committee formed to find Bell’s replacement. The nonprofit organization added several major projects in recent years, from a new aquatic center in Lake Wylie to running the former Leroy Springs Recreation Complex in Fort Mill to the Indian Land site set to open next year.

The Lake Wylie site is a partnership with the Clover School District. The Fort Mill site kept a recreational institution up and going, partnering Upper Palmetto with the Town of Fort Mill and the Fort Mill School District.

“The new way to grow a YMCA is through partnerships, and I am thrilled at the long lasting partnerships we have created with local school districts and government agencies,” Bell said.

Mayor Guynn Savage in Fort Mill said Bell is part of the reason her town chose to keep the recreation complex there open.

“He is such a driving force in our area as a champion of health and recreation,” Savage said. “Moe’s dedication and accomplishments made the town’s decision to partner with the YMCA on the operation for the complex an easy one. He is a born leader and we all benefit from his contributions to our area.”

With the Lake Wylie and Fort Mill sites partnering with school districts, Upper Palmetto continues its focus on teaching children to swim. Donations to the annual giving scholarship program through the YMCA is up to more than $500,000 a year. Each year more than 3,000 fourth-grade students in Rock Hill, Clover, Chester, Lancaster and Fort Mill get free swim lessons.

“Moe is recognized as one of the area’s leading Y Executives, not only for growing the size and scope of our Y, but for leading and expanding efforts to transform the lives of those who need our Y the most,” said Toby Chrisley, YMCA board chair.

Upper Palmetto, which already runs the gym space for the town of Fort Mill, will begin full operation of the Fort Mill Aquatic Center for the Fort Mill School District later this month.

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