Community center gets a boost with $339,000 remodel | North West

The articles in this roundup of regional news are taken from weeklies across the region. This is the first part, the second part to appear in the Sunday Tribune.

Sue Swenson knows from experience that the planned $339,000 renovation of the McCall Community Center is a worthwhile investment.

Swenson started visiting the community center, also known as the senior center, about 10 years ago when she moved to McCall to care for her mother who has Alzheimer’s disease.

“The senior center has just been my support,” said Swenson, 65, of McCall. “These people have kept me grounded through it all.”

Her mother has since died, but the community center brings her back twice a week for public dinners with cards and board games.

The center’s ability to continue providing services was bolstered last week when McCall City Council awarded the contract to renovate the building at 701 First St. behind McCall’s City Hall.

The works will replace the existing cladding, put a new roof on the building, add access doors for the disabled and improve the insulation.

The project is expected to start this spring and be completed by August 15.

The work is funded by the city, which leases the 4,600 square foot building to the center for $1 a year. The center will remain open during the renovation.

The senior center opened in 1978 on a 1.7-acre lot behind McCall’s City Hall that was deeded to the city in 1977.

“It should help them with their heating costs,” said City Manager Anette Spickard, who sits on the center’s board. “The center has a fairly high heating bill due to insulation problems.”

For 2021, the center’s utility costs totaled more than $8,000, or about 15% of the $54,000 raised by the center to fund its operations for the year.

A $3,195 local tax subsidy from the city for LED lighting in the building will also help reduce utility costs, freeing up more funding for services, said Darlene Limbaugh, director of the center.

Services offered by the center include twice-weekly public dinners, meals on wheels, a public food pantry and transportation for those in need, Limbaugh said.

Public meals are served at 5 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. They’re open to people of all ages with a suggested donation that’s usually around $7, Limbaugh said.

“You don’t have to be a senior to participate,” she said.

A series of closings and reopenings over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic has caused attendance to plummet, said Cliff Scheline, chairman of the community center’s board of directors.

“It was a bad time for us,” said Scheline, 70. “We realized how important dinners are not just for nutritional reasons, but for social reasons.”

The camaraderie fostered by the center is especially important in the winter when there’s not much else to do and many residents have fled to warmer parts of the county, said Sandy Cottrell, 80, of McCall, a regular at the center.

“It’s my lifeline,” said Judy Madden, 74, of McCall. “We would like to get back on our feet and have more people participating here.”

— Drew Dodson, The Star-News, (McCall), Thursday

Kachelmier becomes superintendent of the Kamiah school

KAMIAH — Dennis Kachelmier had a few speed bumps in his first week as superintendent of Kamiah Schools. Blown and blown snow on the prairie got his car stuck in a snowdrift on his way from Grangeville on January 3. Wind, snow and freezing rain led to the decision to close schools. He also reported “a bit of excitement” with the college’s new heating system, leading to a lack of heat and two days of school closure.

Kachelmier took it in stride, saying he was happy to return to work at Kamiah with the staff and students there. He said he had a lot of connections with Kamiah schools and knew a lot of people. When he retired in 2013 and he and his wife moved to Grangeville, Fred Mercer (Kamiah District Superintendent) asked him to fill in for the math teacher for a year. Once the school year started, Mercer hired him to serve as the high school principal in the 2013/14 school year.

When asked to replace superintendent for the remainder of the 2021/22 school year, Kachelmier said: “I always liked Kamiah so that made it easier.” When he learned that Dave Harrington had just started as a high school principal, he said he was happy to have the chance to work with him. Kachelmier said he and Harrington first met when they were kids. They have a common history in education as they both served as principals of Clearwater Valley Junior-Senior High School at different times.

— Norma Staaf, The Clearwater Progress, (Kamiah), Thursday

Jill E. Washington