#2 News Story: Community center goals become reality in 2017

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Eureka Springs Community Center

had an eventful year, kicking things

off with the demolition of Building

100. Chairwoman Diane Murphy said

the demolition was necessary to create

space for the Eureka Springs Farmers

Market and other community events.

Part of the contract required the foundation

to salvage glass blocks to use in the

project later on.

It was surreal, Murphy said, to see the

building come down after years of planning

the community center.

“All of this we have been working for

is really happening. Here we are with it

actually coming down,” Murphy said.

“It was pretty amazing.”

The first big event, Winterfest, was

held at the gym only three weeks later.

The event featured bluegrass bands,

a potluck, a soup contest, silent and

live auctions, a chance to win $20,000

and the farmers market itself. Joyce

Knowles, who

helped organize

the event with

her husband, said

she wanted to get

involved so the

farmers market

could relocate to

the community

center.

“This fundraiser

is to add money to that. We realized

they needed much more than $10,000,”

she said. “You can’t get much of a car

for $10,000 anymore, and we knew that

wasn’t going to be enough. We’re not

telling them how to use it. We’re just

trying to add money to that fund. We’d

like to get them here sooner rather than

later.”

The community center continued its

Dine Around fundraiser, meant to help

open the gym and create programming

for Eureka Springs youth. The fundraiser

was a success, raising $11,052 during

its first round. The money was put to

use in March when the community center

launched a trial after-school program

for all public, private or home-school

children from kindergarten to sixth

grade. More than 90 students enrolled

in the program’s trial run.

The program was meant to be held at

the gym, Murphy said, but the discovery

of mold pushed that back a bit. Instead,

the community center funded the program

and Eureka Springs Elementary

School hosted it.

On April 20, the Eureka Springs

Farmers Market finally made its move

to the community center. Jon Toombs,

president of the farmers market, said

the market had been working with the

community center for years to complete

the move.

“The market has been going for 14

or 15 years now, but we’ve never really

had a home we could count on. We’ve

had some wonderful, wonderful people

who have hosted us over the years. We

don’t want to in any way dismiss that,

but they’re businesses and they have to

make business decisions,” Toombs said.

“This is our first opportunity to be part

of the community. The community center

wanted us to make our new home

here, and it felt like a great fit. Honestly,

this is a great thing.”

The Eureka Springs Community

Center Foundation received the SOAR

Award at the Groundbreaking Solutions

annual conference in Little Rock in

June, which recognizes the community

project of the year.

“It was a really nice recognition and

very encouraging,” Murphy said.

The community center received a

$25,000 grant from AT&T in July to

start developing a greenhouse program.

The greenhouse will have community

access, Murphy said, and an educational

component.

The grants kept rolling in, with Windgate

Charitable Foundation awardingthe community center a $50,000 matching

grant in August. The reason for the

grant, Murphy explained, is to help the

community center foundation get some

buildings at the old high school ready

for community use, beginning with

completing mold remediation.

In November, the Eureka Springs City

Council voted to relocate city meetings

to the community meeting room at the

community center. Murphy said the

community center is working to get the

room ready for the meetings after the

first of the year. It’s incredible, Murphy

said, to think of all the community center

has accomplished in 2017.

“It was just in January that the big

building came down,” Murphy said.

“All the progress you see up there has

just happened in this calendar year. It’s

really been a remarkable amount to get

done. We want to give a big thank you

to everybody for believing in it and

helping us make it happen.”

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