by Brian Orr
GARDNER- Over 40 residents of the Gardner area gathered at the Gardner Community Center on Thursday evening to discuss three items concerning the community center: the disappearance of the sound baffles from the ceiling, the disappearance of the books and shelves from the informal library, and the re-establishment of a locally controlled Gardner Community Center Board.
The Huerfano County Commissioners have recently completed a three-month long renovation of the building to bring it into A.D.A. compliance (Americans with Disabilities Act).
Two of the last acts before the renovation was completed was the removal of the sound baffles and the books, without anyone in Gardner’s knowledge.
And they’re really mad about it.
When the HWJ asked County Administrator John Galusha about their removal, he said he did not want to say who removed them.
He did note however, that the county, which owns and manages the community center, was looking into replacing the sound baffles with an updated noise cancellation system, possibly brown foam panels across the ceiling. “We’ll record sound checks in there before and after installation to see if they work,” Galusha said.
When asked if the noise cancellation system would be in place before the scheduled Celtic Music Festival’s concert on September 27, Galusha replied they should be in place before the end of July.
At the meeting, the accoustics were stunningly bad. Past director of the Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival, Barbara Yule, had been worried the Gardner concert would have had to be cancelled. If the panels do go up in time, the concert should continue as scheduled.
Irate citizens still wanted to know why the fire retardant panels were even taken down in the first place. They had been hung from the ceiling six years ago using private funding and volunteer labor, to make the place usable for concerts and other loud events held at the center.
The second bone of contention the crowd wanted to chew on was the disappearance of the community books and their shelves. There was no formal check-in-check-out system for the books, just take a one and leave one laissez-faire policy. No one knew how many books are in question, but the collection had been growing for 23 years. The shelving units were donated by Harlene Micheals.
Attempts to ascertain where the books are now has come up with conflicting answers.
Galusha again would not say who removed the books or where they were taken, but did say it would be possible to get more books if that was what Gardnerites wanted. Asked if the original books could come back, Galusha said no.
Galusha stated that the floor of the community center was very uneven, and the additonal weight was putting an undue strain on the building.
There were rumors the books had been donated to the Ordway or Sugar City libraries, but phone calls there turned up nothing.
The third topic, of the re-establishment of a Gardner Community Center Board was met with enthusiasm, and a motion to hold another meeting with the express intent of nominating board members, who would establish a working relationship with the county commissioners.
All six commssioner candidates were present at the meeting, and each took a moment to address the crowd with their thoughts on the matter. The basic message they each gave was, get organized, be motivated, and look at this as an opportunity.
None of the current commissioners, or the county administrator attended the open meeting.
The group closed the meeting by setting a date for a follow-up meeting on Wednesday, June 6.