May 10th 2013 at 11 am marked the official beginning of the construction of the Talimena Scenic Drive Visitors and Interpretive Center. This event had been a long time coming and has been greatly anticipated. Many people made it possible for the Talihina Area to have this facility.
Cossatot Builders has been working hard doing the reconstruction of the building from literary the ground up. Construction on the roof has begun. According to Gerald Watson, Construction Engineer, the shingles will go on the last part of next week. When you pass by the building take a closer look at what has been accomplished.
Here is the history behind the center. Marie Taylor, prominent business owner, owned a rock house and 5 lots across from Mansour's Furniture Store near the corner of Dallas and First Street. She had it listed for sale for quite some time, but did not have a buyer.
Susan DuBose approached her with an idea. She showed Marie that donating the property to the Talihina Chamber of Commerce would enable her to deduct the value from her income taxes. So in December 2003 Marie deeded the property to the chamber.
Volunteers led by Bill and Rhonda Sears began cleaning up the property, removing what they could of the inside, and tearing down and removing dilapidated outbuildings. Soon after the acquisition, the Chamber of Commerce began raising funds to do the renovation of the house.
State Representative Randall Erwin and Senator Kenneth Corn requisitioned funds to help pay for the initial cost of the preliminary design for the first grant application. Chamber Director, Vera Nelson, applied for an Environmental Grant. In order to receive this grant, 20% of the projected cost had to be raised. Valerie Templin developed a brochure with different levels of participation.
This brochure was mailed out and news releases went out with the brochure information. Vera and Susan went to various businesses and individuals and gave them the opportunity to donate funds.
The match was raised, but the grant was not funded. Those matching funds that were raised were used to match a Byways Grant the Chamber applied for to be used for the renovation. The design portion of the grant was funded in 2007. Although the funds from the first grant were not available, Vera applied for a second Byways Grant that was funded in 2008.
Because of the time that elapsed before the Chamber was able to use the grant funds, the construction cost had accelerated greatly. With the funds that were granted and raised, we will now be able to complete the rock house and concrete parking lot; however, in-kind funds that were in the grant application counted toward the Chamber's 20% match. After the grant was funded, the in-kind funds were disallowed.
Because of the disallowance, the Chamber had to borrow funds to replace the in-kind portion of the grant. We have rocks donated from Rock-It Natural Stone to build the Outdoor Classroom. Construction can only be completed once the funding is raised.
Cecil Holcomb, owner of Holcomb's Construction, had offered his services as Construction Manager for In-kind funds on the original grant. He has graciously agreed to continue in that capacity. Additional funding is also needed to construct the reception counter.