Char-Koosta News

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Boys and Girls Club find a new total home

By Alyssa Kelly
Char-Koosta News

Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Aric Cooksley is photographed with organization staff and members. Cooksley said the organization has been working the past two years to find a solution to its relocation issue. (Alyssa Kelly photo)Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Aric Cooksley is photographed with organization staff and members. Cooksley said the organization has been working the past two years to find a solution to its relocation issue. (Alyssa Kelly photo)

RONAN — The Total Home furniture store is closing its doors after 24 years of operation but its end marks new beginnings for The Boys and Girls Club. The organization has been in negotiations to takeover ownership of the business’s iconic building come November.

Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Aric Cooksley said the purchase came at an opportune time for both parties. “The Granley family reached out to us and let us know that they were planning to retire,” he said. “They are really excited that our program will be taking over the building because they see it as a service to the community. I think it kind of speaks to their legacy as a family owned business.”

After 24 years in business, the Total Home furniture store is closing its doors. The Boys and Girls Club is in negotiations to takeover its business’s iconic building in November. (Alyssa Kelly photo)After 24 years in business, the Total Home furniture store is closing its doors. The Boys and Girls Club is in negotiations to takeover its business’s iconic building in November. (Alyssa Kelly photo)

 Relocation has been ongoing issue for the program since plans were announced to expand US Highway 93. For a dollar a year, The Boys and Girls Club has been renting its current building from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes. The facility is located along the highway and 2018 construction plans require that it be demolished.

 Cooksley said the program has been developing plans over the past two years to find a solution to its location issues. “We have really been working to keep our doors open for our members. We serve over 250 kids in the Ronan area and they depend on us. Closing our doors has never been an option,” he said.

The Boys and Girls Club program hires members of the elderly community called “grandparents” to work with the children.  (Alyssa Kelly photo)The Boys and Girls Club program hires members of the elderly community called “grandparents” to work with the children. (Alyssa Kelly photo)

Cooksley said the program plans to renovate the 19,000 square foot property to include a commercial kitchen, community meeting rooms, and separate units for teens and younger members. “In 2016, we served 20,000 meals in the Ronan location alone. That’s a lot of food to prepare and a commercial kitchen would allow us to serve that need more functionally,” he said.

Cooksley said the building would also allow the program to expand its services. “A bigger building will allow us to create a separate teen section, which includes things like a college readiness program, job shadowing, life planning, and recreation opportunities for that age group. Because of space, we haven’t gotten to offer that, so we’re really excited because this community definitely has a need for it.”

Part of the Boys and Girls Club summer curriculum includes the “Brain Gain” program, which aims to maintain the learning process between the school year. (Alyssa Kelly photo)Part of the Boys and Girls Club summer curriculum includes the “Brain Gain” program, which aims to maintain the learning process between the school year. (Alyssa Kelly photo)

A 2016 report from the Suburban Stats organization found that the city of Ronan has a 26 percent Native American population. Cooksley said the demographic is reflective in the Boys and Girls Club membership. “This community has a large Native American population and that is something we hope to serve more efficiently with a new location,” he said. “Our goal is to create a more comfortable space where we can offer more culturally focused groups and classes.”

Cooksley said the Ronan facility serves over 250 members. (Alyssa Kelly photo)Cooksley said the Ronan facility serves over 250 members. (Alyssa Kelly photo)

The Boys and Girls Club of Lake County and the Flathead Reservation will continue operating through the anticipated plans of purchase and renovation. Cooksley said the new location is projected to be open by the second half of 2018. For more information on the Boys and Girls Club call: (406) 676-5437 or visit: https//:www.flatheadbgc.org.

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