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Roberts library project gets extra boost

When the Roberts Library Fundraising committee announced that they planned to raise $1.5 million, some thought it couldn't be done, especially in these economic times.

Now, about three years later, the committee is only about $200,000 short and potentially a few months away from breaking ground for the new building. They hope to start construction this fall.

"It's a testament to resourceful people," said building committee and library board member Katy Kapaun.

The community of Roberts and the Town of Warren seems to fully back the cause.

Approximately $190,000 was given to the fund through bake sales, cook book sales, teas, meat raffles, golf outings, book sales and every other fundraiser.

"You name it, we've sold it," Kapaun said with a laugh. "The staff and volunteers have worked very, very hard."

Grants have helped significantly in the committee's pledge drive. Most recently, they received a Community Development Block Grant through the state's Department of Commerce.

They applied for the grant asking for $500,000 and got every penny of it.

"It's absolutely amazing," Kapaun said.

The CDBG program is designed to help with infrastructure and public building projects.

According to the Commerce Department Web site, "This program is designed to enhance the vitality of a community by undertaking public investment that contributes to its overall community and economic development."

To receive all the funds awarded, they must meet federal requirements for building projects, like completing an environmental study and meeting construction timelines.

"We're not anticipating any problems," Kapaun said of the added requirements. Costs incurred from those added requirements are already accounted for in the building committee's overall budget.

Getting the CDBG has also helped secure other grants.

Last year, the committee was awarded a Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation Grant. The $250,000 grant came with a matching component. If the committee could raise another $250,000 on their own, the foundation would pitch in an additional $250,000, making that one grant worth a potential $750,000.

The CDBG counted toward the matching requirement, securing the maximum amount of that grant.

In January, the Otto Bremer Foundation also awarded $50,000 contingent upon the committee securing the CDGB. Paperwork is still being sorted, but a check to the building fund is expected soon for that grant.

"Without this grant (CDGB), this project wouldn't be successful," Kapaun said.

The Village of Roberts and Town of Warren have pledged shares to the building fund as well.

Kapaun said since they started raising money for the library three years ago, the committee has raised their goal to meet higher costs. No one can say for sure the exact amount the new building will cost.

"Let's hope it comes in under," Kapaun said.

The fundraising committee will be working to garner the rest of the money through events this summer. Here is what they have planned so far to raise the last approximately $200,000. More events may be added.

• Pie and Ice Cream Social, 5:30 p.m., Thursday, May 28, Roberts Park Building. Free will donation.

• Used Book Sale, 8 a.m.-noon, Saturday, May 30, Hazel Mackin Community Library, 107 W. Main Street.

• Civil War Encampment, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday, May 30, Hazel Mackin Community Library.

• Golf Outing, Aug. 29. Details are still being planned.

If the past is any indication of the future, the community will show up in droves at these events.

"This is happening because of volunteers and a supportive community," Kapaun said.