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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The “$22 for 22 Steps” fund raiser for the Colfax Municipal Building elevator project has raised nearly $5,200 so far.
Lisa Bragg-Hurlburt, director of the Colfax Public Library, reported at a meeting of the Colfax Village Board’s elevator commission on January 14 that the total amount raised to date was $5,172.
All together, $144 had come in that day, she said, noting most of the contributions have been by check but some people also are contributing online.
The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented holding any in-person events in the Colfax Municipal Building auditorium as fund raisers for the elevator project, and elevator commission members decided $22 for 22 Steps would be a safe way to raise money for the project in the meantime.
The $22 for 22 Steps fund raiser began in October, and elevator commission members agreed to continue with the fund raiser for the time being since people still cannot gather at the Cozy Theater for events.
The last fund-raising event in the municipal building auditorium was the Elvis Presley double-feature movies in January of last year.
Prior to that, there had been a number of fund-raising events and other activities in the auditorium, including the Missoula Children’s Theatre two summers in a row (“Blackbeard the Pirate” and “Jack and the Beanstalk”), family movie nights, performances by The Britins (a Beatles tribute band), Poppa Bear Norton, The Looney Lutherans, The Stringsmiths, the Ukulele Klub of Eau Claire, Jim Herrick and Friends, Dually Noted (a dueling pianos act), and Truth Be Told events hosted by Steve Russell and Kobi Shaw for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, vacations, and to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the June 4, 1958, Colfax tornado.
The amount of nearly $5,200 is almost as much as the elevator commission raised during the thrift sale at the Colfax Fairgrounds in August of 2019, Bragg-Hurlburt noted.
All together, the elevator fund currently contains nearly $70,000.
Mark Johnson, owner of the Colfax Arts & Antique Mall and the Cafe II Coffee Shop & Bakery, came up with the idea for $22 for 22 Steps in consultation with Troy Knutson, a member of the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group.
The “22 steps” part of the fund raiser refers to the 22 back steps leading from the auditorium down to the main floor of the municipal building.
The steps will be removed when an elevator is installed.
In addition to making all three floors of the municipal building handicapped accessible with an elevator, the project will include renovating the basement into a usable space.
The basement of the municipal building — which was at one time used for a variety of events, such as Girl Scout meetings, Boy Scout meetings, Colfax Woman’s Club meetings, Kiwanis meetings, skating, craft fairs, as a practice space for the Dunn County Barbershoppers and just about anything else you can think of, including as triage for those injured in the June 4, 1958, Colfax tornado — has been closed for about 20 years because of water damage.
Bragg-Hurlburt also reported on the status Cedar Corporation’s application for a Community Development Block Grant planning grant.
The elevator commission recommended applying for the planning grant, and the village board approved contracting with Cedar Corp in September.
The CDBG planning grant would be a first step in applying for CDBG funds from the federal government for up to $1 million to complete the elevator project. The CDBG funds are awarded on a two-to-one basis, so if the elevator project were $1.5 million, and Colfax was awarded a grant for $1 million, the elevator commission would have to raise $500,000.
Estimates from two years ago are that the elevator project would cost around $700,000.
Bragg-Hurlburt said she learned the planning grant application had been delayed because a family member of a Cedar Corp employee had died due to complications from COVID-19.
Cedar Corp is in the process right now of planning for the public hearing that must be held for the planning grant, she said.
Cedar Corp will use the $16,000 planning grant to complete a facilities analysis. The village’s $5,340 portion of the planning grant will be paid out of the elevator fund.
The elevator commission has been fund raising for several years, and none of the money in the elevator fund is taxpayer money.
Since Colfax has more than 51 percent of its residents designated as low to moderate income, the village qualifies for the two-for-one Community Development Block Grant of up to $1 million.
Earlier in 2020, based on the recommendation of the elevator commission, the village board approved using $2,500 from the elevator fund to contract with Cedar Corporation to write the planning grant application.
If you would like to make a donation to $22 for 22 Steps, there are number of ways to do so:
• Visit the Colfax Public Library’s website at www.colfaxpubliclibrary.org, and click on the “donate” button.
• Use your cell phone to text the word “donate” to 715-768-6086, which takes you to the donation link.
• Visit the Colfax Commercial Club’s website at www.colfaxcommercialclub.com.
• Visit the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group’s website at www.cmbrg.webs.com.
• Drop off a check or cash at the Colfax Public Library or the Colfax village administrator-clerk-treasurer’s office. The check should be written out to the Village of Colfax with “elevator fund” written in the memo line.
• Mail a check to Colfax Public Library, 613 Main Street, P.O. Box 525, Colfax WI 54730.
• Drop off your donation in the donation jar at Johnson’s Cafe II Coffee Shop & Bakery a half a block down the street from the Colfax Municipal Building.