FARMINGTON – After nine years of yard sales and silent auctions, the ribbon cutting to officially celebrate the opening of the Fairbanks Meeting House was pretty sweet.
The perfectly white walls and gleaming wooden floors of the spacious banquet hall, adjacent kitchen, office space, which LEAP, Inc. will occupy and the Care & Share food pantry in the lower level, all highlighted efforts of a core group who sought to never give up on building a community center.
The Fairbanks School Neighborhood Association managed to raise the $457,000 needed to build the community center. More than half the funds, $250,000 came through a USDA Rural Development grant. Another $100,000 matching grant was awarded and the rest, $107,000 was raised through years of bakes sales, auctions, and yard sales. Today they celebrated that feat with an open house.
“It’s our baby; it only took nine years instead of nine months is all,” said organizer Patty Jacobs. The original 100-year-old schoolhouse burned down in 1998 and ever since then, FSNA has worked to rebuild the community center.
“This turned out really well,” said Bobbi Arnold of the USDA Rural Development. “This is exactly the kind of project the grants are aimed at.”
Outside the sun was shining and people were smiling. Deb and Mike Chase stood with Rev. Scott Planting, who served as FSNA’s secretary, looking up at the new building.
“When you lose a neighborhood school, a part of the community goes too,” Deb Chase said. “This has brought it back.”