Members of the Etna community have taken on the task of purchasing the old Etna elementary school building to be used as a community Recreation Center and Public Facility.
Members of the community have come together and are calling themselves the Etna Community Center Group (ECCG). The group is sponsoring a spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Friday, August 29 at 6 p.m. to help raise funds for the building. The cost for adults will be $10 a plate and all children will be free.
During the dinner, which is being held on the old Etna school campus, community members will be presenting the facts, figures, and ideas for the building and there will be many discussions taking place. There will be a bounce-house for the kids featured and a dessert raffle/auction taking place as well.
Perhaps the biggest barrier for the Etna community is the $500,000 purchase cost, however, individuals from the ECCG have pursued a community facility grant that will be used in the purchase process. This situation, however, is a little more unusual than most like it, because facilities like the old Etna school are typically donated to the community and the grant is used to refurbish the building.
A statement issued by members of the ECCG states, “Things are happening very fast and we really just hate to see a public building be sold and not be owned by the public. The tax payers paid for this building and the tax payers should be able to keep it and use it for the benefit of the community.”
The ECCG has also applied for a planning grant of $25,000 to help facilitate the community facility grant.
The group is hoping to raise an $8,333 match from the dinner/fundraiser, which will be used to get the planning grant process moving.
The community is in the process of creating a Joint Powers board with the county that will manage the day-to-day operations once the money has been raised and the grants come through to purchase the building.
Once the building is in operation the ECCG, hopes that the building will be used as a community center, recreation center, and public facility. The ECCG is hoping to have a building where all age groups can have a meeting location. Things like youth basketball, volleyball, a playground, book clubs, exercise classes, painting classes, and a place for seniors to meet and participate in activities are all possibilities for the building.
Once the building is in operation, the ECCG expects a small portion of the building will be rented for profit and hopes to get enough tenants including government agencies and starter businesses to help pay for the expenses of the building, like electricity, heating, lawn care, etc.
It is expected that when the Etna community grows and incorporates into a town, that the town will take on some of the responsibility of the building. How soon Etna will incorporate is purely speculation, but when the community does decide to incorporate, they will have an excellent site for a town hall.
Community support for the project is growing as word and information is spreading throughout the community. The ECCG is encouraging and extending a special invitation to everyone interested to attend the dinner/fundraiser on Friday night where plans of the project and new suggestions and ideas will be heard. The ECCG would like to remind the community that not just Etna residents will be able to use the building but is hoping that people and groups from Alpine to Thayne will use the building.