Oct 20, 2021
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UNION COUNTY — Two local organizations are hoping grant money will help with crucial upcoming projects.
The Oregon Cultural Trust rang in its 20th anniversary by releasing a list of 140 cultural organizations across the state receiving a total of $3,709,852 in grants. On that list was the Eastern Oregon Regional Arts Council at Art Center East in La Grande and Friends of the Historic Union Community Hall at the Catherine Creek Community Center in Union.
“We have a building that was built in 1905, so we have some electricity issues that we’re really excited about addressing,” said Cherie Kausler, a volunteer at the Catherine Creek Community Center.
Kausler said the community center will use the $25,458 in grant funds to improve the electrical system so the center can host more events efficiently. The modernization of the electrical systems will allow for safe use for cultural programming, an area of the Oregon Cultural Trust.
“One of the things we’d like to see happen is the ability to have some cultural activities occur on the stage, seeing as this is the Oregon Cultural Trust grant,” Kausler said. “That will require efficient electricity, so that was how we justified the grant.”
The Catherine Creek Community Center focuses on hosting community events, furthering the community’s art and cultural development, maintaining historic buildings in Union and being a centerpiece for the town. The historic building at 667 N. Main St. in Union hosts a food pantry program, youth programs and private events. With the improved electrical systems, Friends of the Historic Union Community Hall group plans to open more doors for usage opportunities.
“We’ve had a lot of support and the community has been amazing,” Kausler said. “We’re going to have to go to the community with a lot of the other renovation projects, but between the roof and the electricity we should be stable.”
The community center recently used grants from the WildHorse Foundation and Kinsman Foundation to fix the building’s roof. Looking forward, several lingering projects remain on the docket to have the building at its full potential. The group hopes to upgrade and repair the building’s stained-glass windows, improve lighting for security purposes, replace several doors and make improvements to the foundation.
“There are still a lot more renovations coming in the future, but having electricity moves us from crisis to afloat,” Kausler said.
At Art Center East, the grant will go toward installing a lift to improve ADA accessibility. The Carnegie Library building, which was built in 1913, serves as the home base of Art Center East in the heart of La Grande.
The art center received $24,440 toward the completion of the project, which will make the building accessible to all visitors.
Both Art Center East and the Catherine Creek Community Center were on the upper end of the spectrum in grant amounts, which range from $5,000 to $33,728. Of the 155 eligible applicants, 58 were funded throughout Oregon.