‘Now we’ll become more public’Campaign continues after $2.5 million grant
By Xiomara Levsen
The Washington High School auditorium is another step closer to reality. However, there is still a lot of work to be done with the fundraising campaign.
Jan Gallagher, co-chairperson of the Washington Betterment Committee with Robert Youngquist, said next week the committee will meet to decide its next step.
“We’re still having small organization meetings and sending people out to solicit funds,” she said after the Washington County Riverboat Foundation grant awards banquet on Wednesday, May 1. “Now, we’ll become more public. We’ve been very quiet in the past but this will help us.”
The Washington Betterment Committee, which is part of the Washington, Iowa Betterment Foundation, has been working on the campaign for three years.
“We have over 75 volunteers on this project,” Gallagher said. “There are 20 people in the solicitation group alone.”
The grant check was written to the Washington Betterment Committee but Gallagher doesn’t want people to get confused with that.
“When we began, we were looking for a community foundation to become a part of, and the Washington, Iowa Betterment Foundation offered,” she said. “This lets us take advantage of their 501(c)(3) status.”
The 501(c)(3) is a nonprofit designation from the Iowa Department of Revenue, which allows the committee to raise funds for the auditorium.
The committee has some ideas on how to continue the fundraising process.
One idea is having more public presentations like the one she and Youngquist did for the Washington County Riverboat Foundation (WCRF) this past April.
“We will be having more public presentations in the future,” Gallagher said. “The presentation we did before the Washington County Riverboat Foundation was only 10 minutes long. With the public presentations, we’ll have a longer time period to go over the information on the auditorium and this will help the public become more aware of our campaign.”
Another idea is applying for more grants.
“This is the largest grant we’ve received, but we are looking into other grants,” she said.
Once the fundraising is done the next step will be to work together with the Washington Community School District (WCSD) to begin the building process.
The committee began the fundraising process separate from the school district after the first bond didn’t include the auditorium.
“I was very upset when I saw that,” Gallagher said. “Ever since then I’ve been the squeaky wheel for this project.”
WCSD superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen would like to see the fundraising campaign closer to their goal before beginning the building process.
“We haven’t had the discussion on when the groundbreaking will be,” Jorgensen said. “My biggest concern is starting the building project before all of the funds have been raised.”
Jorgensen said the district already knows where the addition of the auditorium will be at the high school but has other concerns about the plans.
“They may have to scale back on some things that are in the design,” Jorgensen said. “For example, the plans include an orchestra pit, but not many other high school auditoriums have those.”