An effort is underway to complete all aspects of the new Jacksonville community center facility before the holidays.
Classes and events at the nonprofit center began in April, but finishing touches have awaited funds after the need for $70,000 in additional foundation work to protect adjacent cedar tree roots was discovered during construction.
“We’re trying to make a final push to complete the finishing touches before Christmas,” said David Doi, the center board of director’s secretary. Those efforts have included discussions with potential donors, approaches to foundations and an appeal to the city.
Located on the corner of Main and Fourth streets, the 2,900-square-foot center incorporates the Sampson Cottage, which was used as a center previously. The building is on city land that is leased to the group for $1 per year for the next 50 years.
“We went to the City Council to try to see if they will get us over the hump,” said Doi. About $30,000 is needed to cover final purchases. Construction, furnishings and in-kind donations are budgeted at $977,000, and 87 percent of that amount had been raised by August, including more than $700,000 in financial contributions.
Items needed for completion include floor coverings, window treatments and acoustic panels to control sound during public events. There are also smaller items, such as waste baskets and changing tables for the restrooms.
“We just got our kitchen installed. That was a big deal. Two weeks ago we installed the divider wall. We can now partition the great room,” said Doi.
Center leaders approached the City Council Sept. 18 asking for a donation to cover a bill for kitchen equipment. Council members voted 5-1 against a motion to deny the request and asked that the group come back at the Nov. 6 meeting with more information.
“I’m hesitant to say no and end the discussion,” said Councilor David Jesser, who voted against the motion. Council tabled discussion until the Nov. 6 meeting and asked staff to present options. One of those might be a loan, which could be made from the general fund, City Administrator Jeff Alvis reported.
Two days after the group approached the City Council, a donation to the center along with funds on hand allowed payment of the bill, said Doi.
It cost $40,000 to equip the kitchen, board President Rick Patsche told the council. He said the group has money designated for operations that cannot be moved to fund capital costs.
“We need you guys to help us to the finish line,” Patsche said at the meeting. An appeal earlier in the year to raise an additional $75,000 resulted in 45,000 in contributions, leaving the $30,000 now needed. Volunteer labor in a number of areas has helped to lessen cash outlays, Patsche said.
Donations and volunteers from the Jacksonville Boosters, Jacksonville Woodlands Association and Jacksonville Garden Club were especially helpful, Doi said.
The center now has it first paid employee, Director Emily Saunders, who began work six weeks ago. She was formerly public relations and operations director at the Umpqua Valley Arts Association in Roseburg. She also worked for an arts organization in Newport and has a master’s degree in arts management from the University of Oregon.
Classes and small meetings are held in the 800-square-foot Sampson House part of the center. An AA group meets there regularly. The great room, currently with a concrete floor, is used for yoga classes. During smoke-filled days this summer, the great room was rented for several parties that had been planned as outdoor events. A grand opening will be held once all aspects of the project are completed, said Doi.
Saunders can be reached at 541-702-2585. Donations can be sent to Jacksonville Community Center, P.O. Box 1435, Jacksonville OR 97530. The group’s website is www.jacksonvillecommunitycenter.org.
Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom @ email@example.com.