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Restoration 154 looks to the future

Restoration 154, a nonprofit responsible for many events, programs and improvements in Elba, continues to look to the future.  Special Restoration 154 projects include providing citizens a chance to kayak down the Pea River on a Saturday afternoon or enjoy an event at the Elba Theatre on the downtown square.

Restoration 154 was formed November 2011 after the purchase of the theatre building. The foundation officially began in February 2015 to develop and promote charitable, educational, civic, social, cultural and historical events and activities in Elba.

Accomplishments so far include the creation of the Elba Giving Garden, Pea River Outdoors, and the Elba Theatre restoration. The group has also backed many community events such as the Rockin’ the River Festival.

On Friday, June 22, members of the Restoration 154 organization, Justin Maddox, Laurie Chapman, Phillip Box and Chelsea Cooper, met to look to the future. The group reviewed bylaws and set the next meeting for September 14.

The organization is always actively looking for those who are willing to take time and help out with its projects. Box said, “I think we can reach out to many people for help in our projects. Past and present Living Democracy students would be a great start. A lot of good ideas and help have come from them.”

Living Democracy students who have worked with Restoration 154 in the past have helped out with projects such as the Giving Garden and the painting of a community mural.

Chapman suggested that Restoration 154 participate in an upcoming public meeting on July 9 at city hall for business owners and representatives. She said the meeting would be a good opportunity to “show our presence and remind people about what the theatre can be for the community.”

Maddox said ‘outside the box” ideas for more uses of the theatre would give the downtown area more traffic and benefit local businesses. Box suggested the idea of bringing in an artist to display his or her work, possibly in the theatre.

“I think that would be something that’d be very cool. Everyone loves it when we do something art related,” Box said. The organization has previously provided art camps for children in the community.

Group members also discussed grants, a key component in the success of Restoration 154 projects so far. One future project up for future discussion is bringing a farmers market to the area if the community supports the idea.

The members also discussed the social media pages for Restoration 154. These pages on Facebook have helped raise awareness as to what is happening in the community and how people can play their part in making Elba special. The organization has individual pages for the Pea River Outdoors, the Giving Garden and the Elba Theatre.

This meeting gave me an inside look into how a nonprofit organization can play a huge role in how a community works.  The members seem to have one common goal: making Elba a diverse and fortunate community.