LACOOCHEE — The public got a sneak peek Friday of Lacoochee’s 16,000-square-foot community center, which is slated to open in January.
“A lot of the people here are contributors,” said Billy Brown, general manager of Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative. “We wanted them to get a look at what their donations paid for.”
In addition to a new home for the Lacoochee Boys & Girls Club, the center will house the area’s only health clinic. It will have a full kitchen and dining room for the county’s elderly nutrition program, a library and job training center, a computer lab, a sheriff’s substation and a gymnasium/theater.
Friday’s luncheon was more than a show-and-tell exercise. The Lacoochee Area Redevelopment Corporation is still trying to raise money for the endowment and for increased construction costs.
David Lambert, member relations manager for the electric co-op, said the project is running about $125,000 over budget. “We had to increase the windload for the building to be a hurricane shelter,” Lambert said.
Cpl. David Hink, Lacoochee’s Officer Friendly, said Stanley Park always served as a distribution center during emergencies, but the area has never had a true hurricane shelter.
“The majority of homes in this area were built long before the hurricane codes were in place,” Hink said. “The school has never met the wind load requirements. This building will, and it’s going to have generators.”
The nonprofit redevelopment group, which raised more than $550,000 for the building, applied for a grant from UPS to outfit the computer lab and is also seeking a $50,000 grant from Blue Cross that would pay for the bricks and mortar.