Construction of a new community center for Lost River got under way this month following five years of planning and fundraising by the Lost River Booster Club and community supporters.
In a groundbreaking ceremony Monday overlooking the recently poured cement foundation of the 13,500–square-foot building, more than 30 people gathered to celebrate the exhaustive effort that raised enough money to make a community’s dream a reality.
“Breaking ground on a building is a massive undertaking and those of you here have been right there with us,” Amie McAuliffe, one of the project organizers, told the crowd of supporters. “The promises this building presents and the opportunities it will provide are the greatest causes for celebration.”
The new center is being constructed on the Lost River Junior/Senior High School campus behind the school and north of the track. It will feature, a fitness center, a technology room, a full-size gymnasium, meeting spaces, a kitchen, and a resource center. During the school day, the building will function as an extension of the high school, offering space for robotics and elective classes such as music and art. After school hours, and when school is not in session, the building will serve the community.
Expected completion date is April 2024.
Organizers envision the center being used for youth programming such as art, music, and dance classes, social emotional and leadership development programs, community events and meetings, and by community partners such as Oregon Tech and Klamath Community College for English language learners, GED, and financial literacy courses.
McAuliffe and Georgia O’Brien spearheaded the Lost River Boosters Club fund-raising campaign that raised more than $2.8 million, enough to proceed with construction on the new center.
Total project cost, which includes furnishings and equipment, is estimated at $3.5 million and fund–raising efforts are continuing. Funds raised include private donations, grants, and $800,000 in federal ESSER funds from the Klamath County School District. The multi-purpose building will be owned and maintained by the school district to ensure sustainability.
Speakers at the celebration included state Rep. E. Werner Reschke, who wrote a letter of support that helped garner a $250,000 grant. Also speaking were McAuliffe, O’Brien, Marc Staunton, Klamath County School Board member; Rhonda Nyseth, a Lost River graduate who now supports communities with the state Department of Human Services Office of Resilience and Emergency Management; and Jana Dunlea, principal of Ferguson Elementary School and president of the Lost River Booster Club Board of Directors.
Reschke has supported the project since 2018. “Community is people locally deciding to do something together … saying we have an idea and if we come together we can do it better,” he said. “That’s what this project is about. It’s more than a building.”
Dunlea told the crowd that she is already planning to take advantage of the community center, hoping to use the fitness center on her way to work in the mornings. The gymnasium will provide space for athletic contests for her children and nieces and nephews, eliminating some 40-mile round trip drives to Klamath Falls.
“I know there are many uses for the building that we have not thought of, and I know our community will continue to think of things that we have never even dreamed of. That’s our goal and challenge for the community. It’s our building.”
As the building is being constructed, fundraising is ongoing to provide funds for needed supplies, equipment, and furnishings.
“While today marks an incredibly important milestone, our work continues,” Dunlea said.
For more information or to support the Lost River Community Center Building Campaign, contact LRCC director Amie McAuliffe at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations are tax-deductible.