Total-ly new Home coming soon for Boys and Girls Club
RONAN – Though final paperwork hasn’t been finished, the staff at the Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County are in the preliminary process of moving.
“We are ecstatic about this opportunity,” said Aric Cooksley, Boys and Girls Club executive director.
The plan is to move the club into the building currently occupied by The Total Home furniture store on U.S. Highway 93, but first, the new location must be emptied. Owner Gordon Granley put out a sign saying “going out of business forever” to mark the occasion. He will continue selling the last of the furniture until it’s gone.
At the same time that he planned to retire from the furniture business with his wife, Audrey, he learned that the Boys and Girls Club was looking for a new location to buy. “It worked out perfectly; it’s as if someone was planning this,” he said.
The building was built in 1993 with an open floor plan, designed to be a furniture store and operated as such for the past 24 years.
“I am grateful for the support from the community for all those years and the wonderful friends we’ve made,” Granley said. “It’s been amazing, and now we are going to enjoy our home and family and drive around Montana to visit some new locations.”
After the sale is finalized in November, the building will need to be remodeled to accommodate the club. Cooksley is hoping to open doors at the new Boys and Girls Club location in the second half of 2018 but a definite date hasn’t been set.
“We are still working out all the variables,” he said.
The design plan for the remodel is primarily focused on meeting the needs of the club with 19,000 square feet of space for a youth center and a teen center with different activities for each age group. And secondly, the design plan will include creating space for the community to hold events or activities, he said.
When the Montana Department of Transportation announced plans to remodel a section of U.S. Highway 93 in Ronan starting in 2018, it became evident that the Boys and Girls Club would need to move. Highway expansion plans include a couplet for the City of Ronan with north and southbound traffic reconnecting at the club’s current location.
Cooksley said he is grateful that the club was able to stay in its current location for the past 19 years.
“We are thankful for the generosity of the (Confederated and Salish Kootenai) tribe in giving us this building for a $1 a year since 1998,” he said.
The Ronan club serves about 335 kids a year, but those kids are spread out between the school year program and the summer program. The current building is at capacity around 150 kids.
“During the summers, we’ve had a waiting list for the last three years,” he said.
Many families depend on the club to provide a safe place for kids to go after school and while school is out in the summer. It was noted that one father came into the club every day for several weeks this summer to see if the club had an opening for his kid.
“We want to let them in, it’s so hard to say no, but if we let that one child in then we have to let everyone on the waiting list in and we just don’t have the room,” he said.
He is looking forward to opening the doors to the new facility, which will triple the club’s capacity, allowing him to bring in all the kids on the waiting list and more.
“It will meet our current needs, our anticipated needs, and the needs in the future,” he said. He added that the new location also has a paved parking space and more room next to the new facility for the kids to run and play outside.