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Here they grow again: Galaxy Project plans for new youth and community center

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

 If you see someone knocking on your door in a Galaxy Project t-shirt in the coming days, don’t fret. They aren’t trying to sell you anything, and they will respect a COVID safe social distance. All they need from you is to answer a few survey questions so they can move forward with plans for a new Galaxy Youth and Community Center. 

The Galaxy Project, in coordination with the Olive Hill Historical Society, have procured the old Olive Hill High School cafeteria building, and they plan to use a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to fund renovation of the building into a place where local youth can hang out, work on projects, and build life skills they can take with them in their future career and personal endeavors, whatever those may be. The new center will be a place where kids can get tutoring – they hope to work in conjunction with the nearby Olive Hill branch of the Carter County Public Library on that and other educational components – and maybe even start a business. One of the ideas the kids have already put forward for the space is a coffee shop, Galaxy Project director Chelsa Hamilton noted. 

Another idea was a commercial kitchen, which could serve as one area for the business incubator ideas they’ve also put forward as well as a location for cooking classes. Debbie Baker Harman and Linda Lowe, with the Olive Hill Historical Society, noted that the historical society’s Tea Room is already certified as a commercial kitchen, so they could share resources with the community center as well. 

Hamilton said while the library has a number of computers and internet access, they also hoped to supplement that with the center. 

“Right now, with COVID, and people working from home, computers are important,” Hamilton said. She doesn’t see that importance changing, but, she continued, “a lot don’t have computers or internet access, so we may integrate a computer lab. 

Other things they’d like to see is a shared space for working on projects, a conference room, and the ability to scan, copy, print and fax documents. 

“We definitely hope it’s a hub for the five components of Galaxy,” assistant director Angela Messer Fultz said. Those include health and wellness, education, arts and humanities, business, and recreational and social. 

Before any of those things can come to pass, though, the building needs a complete renovation. Hamilton said the building has been inspected already for asbestos, which was found only in some floor tiles in the oldest part of the building – which has been added onto at least twice. There was no lead paint found, and the structure and foundation are sound, though it will need a new roof and internal renovation. 

“Our next step is a cost estimate,” Hamilton explained. “Then we can apply for the grant.” 

Harman and Lowe said they were enthusiastic about the idea when Galaxy approached them. Lowe explained that there was a need for younger folks to get involved with the historical society, and as a result of this partnership they now have youth from the Galaxy Project serving on the historical society board. 

“The thing to emphasize is it’s a real partnership,” Harman said. “We want to pursue projects of common interest.” 

Lowe added that the close proximity of the historical society’s gymnasium could help facilitate any projects related to the performing arts to grow out of the partnership as well. 

Hamilton said she appreciated the help of the historical society in establishing this new center. 

“I also want to thank the city, city council, and the mayor for supporting our youth, and their vision for change,” Hamilton said. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com.

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