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This is an amazing story, one that cannot be told in a few short words..
2000–the beginning: The first Officers: Bob Neilsen Jr.-President, Dawn Neilsen-Vice President, Joyce Brooks-Secretary and Marge Estenson-Treasurer. Board Officers included: Nadine Scott, Vern and Marilynn Blumhagen, Laura Olson, Janie Scofield, Bill and Kimm Esser. Board members The process of forming a corporation began. By-Laws were written and approved on Oct. 28, 2000. Membership dues were set at $5.00 per year and the roster contained 47 members. ADD LINK TO FIRST ROSTER
2001–the Officers and Board members Board members from 2000 continued leadership and began the process of identifying the ways and needs of the Center. There were many upgrades needed to the old building that was built in 1949: Electrical, floors, restrooms, kitchen, windows and window coverings, painting interior and exterior. The $570.00 in the upgrade fund would not cover one single item. Now it was time to identify how they were going to pay for the operating expense of the Center and the major item, the taxes. The support of the community, the resident’s membership and McKenzie Valley businesses would play a major role in the Centers development. Kathy Thomas was the driving force in the process of obtaining the IRS Non-Profit 501©3 certification for the Center. At the annual membership meeting in May, president of the Center, Bob Neilsen Jr. stepped down due to illness and Walter W. Wilson was elected president. Passing the gavel
2002—the first quarterly newsletter was mailed to the membership and many residents in the valley. The newsletter requested the need for help in many different projects including painters, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and many more. Todd Olson, owner of Olson Construction and Painting offered to paint the interior of the Center. Todd would get the paint donated from Tommy’s Paint Pot in Eugene and with the help of several members of the membership, the Center was stripped, cleaned and got a fresh coat of paint. Kathy Thomas with the help of Vern Blumhagen continued to communicate with the IRS to complete the Non-Profit status of the Center.
2003–was a major break through year for the Center. Todd Olson and several members of the Center began the interior cleaning and painting of the Center. Painting pictures The Center received the Non-Profit 501©3 certification from the IRS. During the May annual membership meeting Sue McKinney suggested we start having bingo games as a fundraiser and offered to donate some bingo equipment to the Center. Walter and Joyce Wilson took on this task and contacted the Upper McKenzie Community Center to learn the process and requirements. Lynn Radcliff (sp) provided the assistance and guidance for our games. On August 9th the Community Center held its first bingo game fundraiser. ADD LINK TO PICTURE PAGE Community Center member Millie Hass donated two “U of O” Civil War Duck football tickets for a fundraiser to the Center. This was a hugh success as Dave and Debbie Stark at Ike’s Pizza helped sell the raffle tickets. ADD LINK TO PICTURE PAGE Mabel Mattoon from the Leaburg Community Center contact the Center about helping run the Christmas Bazaar at the Leaburg Center. This was the beginning for the annual Christmas Bazaar fundraiser. ADD LINK TO PICTURE PAGE
2004—with the banner year in 2003 the Center continued of a upward swing. The rental of the Center began to increase now that it was freshly painted on the interior and a major clean and shape up of the exterior of the building began to take shape. On a weekly basis Tia Chi Classes were being held with many member attending. The Center sponsored the first of yearly AARP 55 Alive Safe Driving Classes. Todd and April Olson (Olson Construction and Painting) became activity in Center activities and offered to paint the exterior of the Center. ADD LINK TO PICTUE PAGE With the success of the fundraisers the Center began the first of several badly needed upgrades. The entire electrical system in the Center needed to be replaced. Chonook Electric in Eugene brought the Center up to code and did an outstanding job of meeting our needs. ADD LINK TO PICTURE PAGE The old four foot single pane glass windows was the next item on the upgrade list and within the upgrade budget to be replaced. ADD LINK TO PICTURE PAGE The fundraiser games of bingo became a fun event in the community. Millie Hass suggested the addition of raffle baskets at the bingo games to add to the fundraiser activities. It became a big hit with the bingo players. For the second year Millie Hass donated two U of O Ducks Civil War Football Tickets for a raffle fundraiser. ADD LINK TO PICTURE PAGE Vern Blumhagen began the process of obtaining grants and donations to which Faye and Lucille Stewart Foundation and Jerry’s Home Improvement responded with major donations. This year would be the 2nd annual of the Christmas Bazaar and the last held at the Leaburg Community Center old gym building. The old gym was scheduled to be demolished and replaced for use by the Leaburg Fire Department. The Centers bank account exploded to $7,000 and then we received statements about the electrical work, window upgrade, other building maintenance and the property tax came due. But it was an exciting year.
2005—at the annual Community Center meeting, Center President Walter Wilson announced after working on the Non-Profit 501©3 status for the Center, thanks to the dedication of Vern Blumhagen and Walter Reim, the Center had been granted a “Property Tax Exemption from Lane County. This was another major move for the Center. This alone would allow the Center to begin the first of many donation awards to community projects, organizations and scholarship awards to a McKenzie High School student. The first scholarship award went to Kyle Sherman. The annual dues was increased to $10.00 a year. This would be the year the old wooden floors would receive a major refinishing job by _____________ ADD LINK TO PICTURE PAGE McKenzie Gutter of Springfield was contacted and they replaced and donated the gutters around the Center. The old heavy duty wooden tables were in need of replacement and thanks to the efforts of Vern Blumhagen, he contacted Ike’s Pizza, EWEB, Roseboro Lumber, Vida Cafe and received donations to purchase six new light weight tables. Vern and Marilynn donated the rolling cart for the tables. The 3rd annual Christmas Bazaar continues to be a fundraising success was held at the Walterville Grange in Walterville. Sadness fell upon the Center this year with the passing of our first President, Bob Neilsen Jr. In remembrance of Bob, we purchased with the memorial donations received, the lighted bingo board.