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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The committee authorized by the village board to begin locating funds for the $700,000 Colfax Municipal Building elevator project has completed the task of writing a fund-raising letter.
The Colfax Village Board approved the letter and also approved $200 in start-up funding for postage and other administrative costs, such as paper and envelopes, at the February 11 meeting.
The elevator committee includes representatives from the Colfax Public Library, the Colfax Public Library Board, the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group, the Colfax Commercial Club, the Village of Colfax and the Colfax Woman’s Club.
“We’re happy with the letter,” said Lisa Bragg-Hurlburt, director of the Colfax Public Library.
Hurlburt ultimately will be the signer of the fund-raising letter on behalf of the Elevator Collaboration Project Committee.
The scope of the project includes an addition onto the back of the building for an elevator and handicapped accessible bathrooms on all three floors, an improved entrance to the building, and a basic finishing of the basement so it is usable again.
Hurlburt said the elevator committee planned to send the letter out in four phases: large corporate donors, local businesses, alumni from Colfax High School and former Colfax residents, and a larger general mailing to library patrons and local residents.
Although Hurlburt had applied for a grant from the Rotary Club of Menomonie for start-up funds to help with the mailings, the grant was not received.
Since the Rotary Club did not award a grant to the elevator committee, Hurlburt asked if the village board would be willing to provide $200 to help the committee get started.
The three-page letter will include a copy of the schematic drawings of the project produced by Cedar Corporation along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to make it easier for people to donate, Hurlburt said.
“We have a good cause that we hope people will get behind,” she said.
The committee is hoping for all ranges of donations, from smaller to larger, said Mark Johnson, president of the Colfax Commercial Club.
The letter includes a variety of ways people can donate: the Colfax Public Library’s website; the Colfax Public Library’s Facebook page; CMBRG’s website; the Village of Colfax’s website; and the Colfax Commercial Club’s website; as well as in person at the Colfax Public Library, the village clerk’s office or mailed directly to the Colfax Public Library.
The letter also notes a designated fund has been set up with the village for the elevator project, which means the money can only be used for that purpose.
The estimate from Cedar Corp. of $675,000 to $725,000 assumes a spring of 2020 construction start.
Anne Jenson, village trustee, wanted to know how the donations would be returned to the donors if the project is never built.
Jenson said she in no way meant her question to sound negative or to assume that the project was going to fail but noted it was a question people would probably ask.
Since the donations for the project will be deposited into a designated fund with the village, a record will be kept of all donations for the project, Hurlburt said.
If the project does not go through, the donors will get their money back, she said.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved the letter and contributing $200 in start-up funds for postage and other administrative costs.
The fund-raising letter for the elevator projects includes a number of facts about the Colfax Public Library and the Colfax Municipal Building:
• The Colfax Public Library was founded by the Colfax Woman’s Club more than 100 years ago.
• According to the library’s 2017 annual report, the library has 1,346 active users — 367 from the village and 979 from the surrounding townships.
• The Colfax public library had 14,716 patron visits in 2017.
• The public library’s computers were used 5,383 times in 2017, and 27,615 books and movies were checked out, along with 2,240 electronic materials.
• Library patrons regularly use the library’s public Wi-Fi connection.
• All together — 2,160 people attended library programs in 2017, including book clubs, Summer Reading, author visits and children’s parties.
• The Colfax Municipal Building is the tallest building on Main Street and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as on the Wisconsin Register of Historic Places.
• Over the years, the municipal building has been the site of concerts, dances, plays, church services, baptisms, at least one wedding, movies, roller skating, Pinewood Derbies, club meetings, dinners, blood drives, and Colfax High School plays.
• When the school building was being remodeled, classes were held in the municipal building.
• Following the June 4, 1958, tornado that destroyed much of Colfax, the municipal building basement was used as a triage location for the injured.
• In years past, the basement of the municipal building served as a senior center.
• The Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group was formed in 1998, and since then, CMBRG has spent over $100,000 on renovations, including the renovation of the auditorium.
• The Village of Colfax has addressed water problems in the basement with a drainage project in Tower Park to siphon rainwater and snow melt away from the building.
CMBRG, the Colfax Public Library and the Colfax Commercial Club currently hold a variety of events in the auditorium, including movies, concerts, Truth Be Told storytelling evenings, and children’s parties for Halloween and Christmas.
Last summer, Missoula Children’s Theatre performed “Blackbeard the Pirate” on stage in the auditorium and plans to perform “Jack and the Beanstalk” this summer.
The next event scheduled in the municipal building auditorium is on March 16, featuring a children’s movie, “Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups,” and the movie, “A Dog’s Purpose” (rated PG).