Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
December 2006
Town of Bell Creates New Full-Access Community Center

In 1916, a two-story school was built in the Town of Bell in Bayfield County that was converted to a community center/town hall in 1956. The building was vacated several years ago.

A group of local citizens meet in 2005 and decided it should be repaired and made ADA accessible. The cost to rehab was only $24,000 more than demolition and new construction. They wanted the building to house a senior center, a library with computer access, a community center, Town offices, and a nonprofit day-care for low- to moderate-income families. This group of citizens volunteered to write up the Community Development Block Grant Public Facilities (CDBG-PF) grant proposal, and a local architect designed the new floor plans for no charge.

The building was completely rehabilitated, due in part to a CDBG PF grant for $211,660 from the Department of Commerce (Commerce). The woodwork, flooring and windows were completely refurbished; the lighting, roof, heating and air conditioning were replaced; and new ADA-compliant bathrooms were installed. A chair lift was added as well.

All citizens, including seniors and persons with disabilities, are now able to access for the building for community functions, senior meals, library usage, voting, and Town business.

Over 350 people attended an open house/turkey feed on Sunday November 19, held to showcase the community center. One of the local citizens involved in the remodeling stated, "The building was drop dead gorgeous, and jaws were dropping at how wonderful it all looked!"

However, the best moment was when Beverly Buck, a lifetime resident of the area, rolled into the main hall for dinner. She hasn't been able to attend local functions for many years because she is wheelchair-bound and did not want to "be a bother." Beverly was thrilled to be among her friends and all involved were pleased that they at last had a full-access building that everyone can enjoy.

-- Sandy Herfel

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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