Art school plans to expand

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Chestnut Creek School of Art to build woodworking studio.


Chestnut Creek School of the Arts has announced a funding plan for the construction of a new woodworking studio building, which is phase III of its growth project in downtown Galax.  
Chestnut Creek Executive Director Chris Shackelford, Board Chair Theresa Lazo and City of Galax Grants Administrator Brenda Marrah presented blueprints and the funding plan for the project to Galax City Council on Sept. 10.
The building that will be used for the studio is at 107 East Oldtown Street and is deeded to the school.
“We’re thrilled to present you with an exciting project and tell you that we have a plan to fund it, too,” Marrah said in her opening remarks to council.
Marrah went on to explain that the financial plan for the project includes seeking grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Virginia Tobacco Commission. It will take approximately one year to receive the grants, but during that time the school will conduct various fundraisers to support the project, as well.
Marrah explained that, if the school is able to successfully secure the necessary funding from all of these sources, the new building should be able to operate independently without having to consider revenue generation for some time. She also said that the building should help Galax’s downtown businesses.
The school has operated from its main campus at the corner of Main and Grayson streets for more than two years, and more recently opened a pottery studio on Oldtown Street.
“The end product is to have a totally sustainable school, and be able to conduct operations for about two years to get it underway,” said Marrah. “We see this as a good opportunity to develop a cultural asset, to increase downtown business and to make Galax more developed in the cultural economy and the downtown area.”
Shackelford played up the benefits and options that the woodworking studio would provide for students, such as instrument and furniture building instruction, design and other wood-related skills and techniques.
Council members were enthusiastic about the project and the potential benefits it would provide the city, and they unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the application of the ARC grant for the project.

In other action, council:
• held a public hearing about the proposed ordinance regarding cleanup costs associated with methamphetamine and other drugs, but no comments were made. Council adopted the ordinance and resolution with a unanimous vote. Those convicted of manufacturing drugs like meth would be responsible for the cost of cleaning up drug lab sites, which often leave behind dangerous chemicals.

• held a public hearing about facility upgrades for the Galax-Grayson EMS building, but no comments were made. Council approved issuance of the required deed of trust and authorized the city manager to complete a required documentation needed in order to close the loan.

• discussed the Galax Bottom Revitalization Project and appointed Bill Webb as the representative on the project’s oversight board.
The city is preparing to fix up houses in the “Bottom” neighborhood around Givens Street and address flooding problems there.
Council also approved the resolution for the project, which adopted the oversight board, housing rehabilitation program design, commercial property exterior improvement program design; appropriated the awarded grant funds for the Bottom Area Project; and authorized the city manager to sign all required grant documents.

• accepted the recommendation of the Galax Planning Commission for the Life Center of Galax to use a house at 501 W. Oldtown Street for additional office space.

• announced the resignation of Ruth Hall from the planning commission. The council will seek a replacement to finish Hall’s term, which ends June 30, 2015.

• appointed City Manager Keith Barker to the Community Policy and Management Team.

• discussed ways to raise public awareness of the traffic signal changes on Jefferson Street and Lafayette/Center Street.

• received a grant from Prevention Connections to promote a Walk to School Day event on Oct. 3. More specific information for the event is still being coordinated.

• discussed impact of tourism in Galax, including more than $1 million in revenue generated in 2011 from tourism.