ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JANET HAMOUS
If work keeps progressing as it has so far, the Lincolnville community will have a brand new community center by early summer.
“We’ve got a family that would like to rent it in May for their daughter’s graduation,” said Jane Pigorsch, Lincolnville city clerk and co “spark plug” for the project. “So we’re really pushing and shoving on it.”
The community center project is supported by a KANSTEP grant provided by the state.
KANSTEP is designed to help small communities with major projects. It provides the materials and professional services for a project, and the community provides the leadership and volunteers to do the work.
“They provide 60 percent of the funds and then the community provides the labor,” said Pigorsch. “We provide our 40 percent in sweat equity.
“This is money that’s coming from Washington, filtering through the state into the city of Lincolnville,” she added. “There’s going to be no increase in the property tax, no mill-levy increase. That is a unique feature of this KANSTEP program.”
The grant covers $181,000 of the project and the remaining $121,000 must come from volunteer labor provided by the community.
To date, 73 volunteers have contributed 3,448 hours, for a dollar value of $93,163.
“We are really satisfied,” Pigorsch said. “Topeka was just ecstatic about where we were at this stage of the game.”
The new building will replace Lincolnville’s former community center that was on the verge of condemnation.
The old building was demolished during the Marion County Fair parade last August. Organizers intentionally picked that time to minimize the number of onlookers at the demolition site.
Work on the new building began immediately, and much of the outside work is now complete.
“We’re working on the roof, and the next thing we’ll start is putting on the siding,” Pigorsch said.
The inside of the building is beginning to take shape, too, and visitors can begin to imagine community events being held in the large, open room.
From the beginning, core committee members have emphasized that the center is for the entire community, not just the city. The center will fill a need in northern Marion County as a location for parties, wedding receptions, family reunions and meetings.
Pigorsch and fellow “spark plug” Dave Schneider said they have been amazed at the level of volunteer support.
“We’ve had overwhelming interest in this project,” Pigorsch said. “One day we had 30 volunteers down there.”
Pigorsch said volunteers and suppliers have come from all around-from Hillsboro, Marion, Herington, White City, Florence, Tampa, Ramona, Abilene, Salina and Hedville, just to name a few.
Even some visiting relatives from Minnesota spent a couple days helping with the project, Pigorsch said.
“There are a lot of businesses that have paid their employees their wages, but they’ve let them volunteer up here,” she said. “We’ve also utilized a lot of community service workers.”
Pigorsch said they had also received help from inmates in the jail who were able to work under the supervision of sheriff’s deputies.
“We’ve used three inmates from the jail and they are fantastic workers and very, very cordial individuals,” she said. “My hat’s off to the sheriff’s department.
“We’ve also used some service groups like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts,” she added. “And senior citizens have been excellent to us, too.”
Volunteering for the project doesn’t mean you have to know how to operate power tools or climb ladders.
Some people help by feeding the workers.
“We have had people who I don’t even know drive by and say, ‘Here’s a pie I just made this morning- enjoy,'” she said.
There is a job for everyone, Pigorsch said.
She expects even more volunteers will be working at the site in the coming months once the painting and decorating-oriented tasks begin.
And now that it is staying light later in the evening, people can stop by after work and help out on the project.
“There are no set hours,” Pigorsch said. “If you can come for an hour, we will use you.”