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Veneta plans service center.

Byline: Kelly Ardis The Register-Guard

VENETA - The growing Veneta area community will have a new social services center to call its own in a year's time.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the $2.3 million Fern Ridge Service Center will be held today at Territorial Highway and West Broadway Avenue from noon to 12:30 p.m. It coincides with the city's third annual Harvest Festival, which will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The current facility, the Tony Garcia Service Center, is in cramped space rented from the Fern Ridge School District. Since 1972, it has served the people of not only Veneta, but the un incorporated areas of Elmira, Alvadore, Walton, Crow and Noti. It houses operations for several service and assistance organizations, including the Love Project Food Pantry, Fern Ridge Gleaners, Mid-Lane Community Partnerships and Lane Council of Governments Senior & Disabled Services. However, the current facility, with a scant 2,000 square feet, is insufficient, community leaders said.

"It is very inadequate for the needs of our community," said Pat Coy, a member of the Fern Ridge Service Center fundraising committee and president of the Mid-Lane Community Partnerships. "Because the community has grown so much, the current facility is just inadequate."

One of the drawbacks is lack of loading and storage space. The center regularly receives donations from FOOD for Lane County for distribution to Veneta area residents, but without a proper loading area, volunteers have to park in the street, set out cones and carry their haul across the street.

"I'm the kind of person who looks for solutions to problems," Coy said.

Coy found the solution six years ago, when he and other committee members decided to start planning a new center.

The new facility will be 7,200 square feet, more than three times the size of the current building. Its bigger size will better meet the needs of the growing community, and a loading area will make it safer for its volunteers. The new center will be able to serve more meals for seniors, up from three times a week to five. The new building will be more conducive to the medical services offered, since more room means more privacy for people seeking help.

"The new facility will allow us the opportunity to serve more people," said Kim Kaufman, who led the fundraising effort.

The committee has lined up $1.5 million in federal community block grants, $250,000 from the Ford Family Foundation, and $25,000 from the Oregon Community Foundation for the project. The community has supported this effort, with many local contributors helping the cause, making up the rest of the center's costs with donated money or supplies. The committee has been raising money with various fundraisers since planning started six years ago.

People who have backed the project should come to the ground breaking, advocates said.

"It's a celebration of the accomplishments of our community and those involved in providing a new facility," Kaufman said "The groundbreaking will announce the new center. We'll put a hole in the ground to start the project off."

The ceremony coincides with the Harvest Festival, where there will be plenty for guests to do. It will feature a pancake breakfast, pie-baking contest, local vendors, wine tasting and more. Proceeds will go toward the new service center.


When/where: Today, noon to 12:30 p.m., Territorial Highway and West Broadway Avenue, Veneta

More information: 541-484-7052
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Title Annotation:Local News; The $2.3 million facility for assistance organizations is expected to open in a year
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 29, 2012
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