COTTONWOOD Up until about a month ago, seniors in Cottonwood would gather weekly at the Cottonwood Community Church. The Prairie Senior Citizens officially made their transition to the basement of Cottonwood Community Hall after the city recently finished major renovations.
About 35 area residents gathered Sept. 20 for a hot meal and conversation. Friends updated each other on family news and reminisced.
As the seniors arrived, the hall was filled with voices talking and laughing. Hilda Nuttman of Cottonwood said this is the one issue still not completely resolved: keeping the noise level contained. She said the city has talked about adding acoustical ceiling tiles, it just hasn’t been completed yet.
Cottonwood Mayor Shelli Schumacher said there are a few odds and ends the city is still working on at the hall. The soundproofing is one issue and a new back entrance for the kitchen is another. She said work on this portion of the project could begin this fall or winter.
Tiffany Forsmann of Greencreek is the head cook for the meals at the senior center, employed through the North Central Idaho Area Agency on Aging (NCIAAA). She works with a team of paid employees and volunteers to provide meals at Grangeville, Cottonwood and Winchester throughout the week.
She noted the renovation has benefited her and the other cooking staff, including new equipment and more daylight.
“It’s more set up for food service,” Forsmann said.
And aside from the benefits to staff, she also mentioned the new meeting hall is more centralized in the community.
“It’s neat to be connected with the community,” she said.
“City staff has been so generous and helpful,” added Pam Smith of Fenn, NCIAAA employee.
The city received a $150,000 Department of Commerce block grant in 2015 to renovate the basement of the community hall. This evolved after about two years of discussions with the senior citizens. The original request was for the city to purchase a building, Schumacher said.
The grant budget included $119,747 for construction, $15,253 for a design professional, and $15,000 for grant administration.
In-kind donations for the project were received from Clearwater Economic Development Association, $7,250 for planning; Wemhoff Architecture, $3,000 for architect services; North Idaho Correctional Institute, $12,834 for demolition and painting; Pacific Cabinets, $6,750; Gem Builders, $11,940; and Nutrition Program, $2,500 for a double-door commercial refrigerator. Schumacher said donations also came from Idaho Forest Group, lumber for framing; Wimer Machine, railing; and Quality Heating Air Conditioning & Electric.
The scope of work included: addition of a new kitchen; creating two ADA accessible restrooms; adding an exterior ADA accessible ramp; and creating an interior storage space.