‘Let’s shake hands and see if they
have calluses, see if they know how to hold a hammer.’
–– Doug McKinney
By TIM HORAN
Steps are underway for an upgrade of the former Navarre Grade School into a community center.
Ryan Riffel, president of the Lions Club which owns the building, made a presentation on what a group of volunteers want to achieve in renovating the building that once housed elementary students.
Doug McKinney, executive director of the North Central Kansas Planning Commission, presented information at the Dickinson County Commission meeting Thursday. He explained that funds are available for the project through the Community Development Block Grant through the Kansas Department of Commerce.
Riffel outlined the renovation project.
“Our thought is to use the old gym and we want to remodel the kitchen for reunions,” Riffel.
He said that demolition of the facility was too big a project and the group wishes to remodel windows and insulation, rewire the facility and renovate the bathrooms and showers, kitchen, and heating and cooling to the facility.
The roof was replaced three or four years ago, he said.
The Dickinson County Commission would be the sponsored host of the grant.
The grant is similar to the Woodbine and Liberty Township project done in the county in the past, McKinney said.
He said after a survey was conducted, it appears the townships in the area meet the qualifications for the grant.
“In general, it’s the Logan and Newbern Townships and parts of Jefferson and Ridge,” he said. “Navarre is in the center.”
McKinney said the group has a good chance of applying for the grant because “they have a core group of volunteers that they need to get down on paper. There have been 20 or so that have attended a few meetings to talk about how this can be done the best.”
“Ryan and company will need to get all those core volunteers in line before the pre-application goes in, in August,” McKinney told the commissioners.
The Dickinson County Commission will file for the pre-application. The project will then be reviewed by the Kansas Department of Commerce to determine if an application is warranted.
“The state says, ‘okay, let’s go out and see these Navarre people. Let’s actually meet the 20 people that are on Ryan’s list. Let’s shake hands and see if they have calluses, see if they know how to hold a hammer.’ That’s what they want to do: meet the real world folks that are willing to do the work.”
The grant, $250,000 maximum, is a 60-40 split but the local 40 percent can be labor and equipment use.
“The idea of the project is a community center idea so that they don’t have a dilapidated school structure in Navarre in the next couple years and so there can be a working community center available,” McKinney said.
The building could be used by civic clubs like the Lions, 4-H clubs, funeral dinners, weddings and family reunions.