From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 45 - 7/6/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

The new Pinedale Learning Center.
Learning Center Still Waiting $150K from Anonymous Donors
Commissioners refuse to give $10,000 for operating money
by Rob Shaul

The anonymous donors which promised to give $150,000 to the Pinedale Learning Center to go towards construction of the organization's new building on south Franklin street have not, as yet, come through with the promised funds.

The funds were offered on the condition that the Learning Center Board of Directors name the new building after dismissed director Martha Ptasnik, and that if the Learning Center ever stopped functioning, the building would become the property of Sublette County.

On June 20, the Learning Center Board agreed to these stipulations, and a deed was prepared to reflect the conditions. The deed was to be executed by Friday, July 7.

However, the anonymous donors are still reviewing the Learning Center Board's concessions and the legal document,s says County Clerk Mary Lankford. The donors have used Ms. Lankford to communicate their proposal to the County Commissioners and Learning Center Board.

Ms. Lankford said the anonymous donors have had the legal documents to review since last Thursday, and that she's visited with some of the donors, but not all of them. She added that they've requested she communicate something back to the Learning Center Board. When asked if she foresaw the anonymous donors having any problems with the Learning Center Board's concessions Ms. Lankford replied, "I don't know."

It's not clear if there will be any ramifications if the money is not donated by July 7.

One thing is for sure. The Learning Center Board needs the money to complete the new building. On June 20, Learning Center Executive Director Anita Sullivan told the County Commissioners that the fundraising was $271,000 short to pay the bill for the completed building. Last month, the Commissioners transferred $100,000 to the Learning Center, bringing the deficit down to $171,000. The anonymous donors' gift would bring the deficit down to just $21,000.

A major portion of the funding for the $750,000 building came in the form of a $250,000 community block grant from the state. The County Commissioners sponsored the grant, and the County will be liable for the full $250,000 if the building project fails. Back in June Commissioner Betty Fear referred to this concern as part of the reason she agreed to transfer the $100,000 to the Learning Center.

If the anonymous donors don't come through, it's very doubtful that the County Commissioners will bail out the Learning Center. This Monday, the Commissioners said they wouldn't give the organization the $10,000 it requested for operating money. Ms. Sullivan told the Commission the money was needed to fund an additional instructor at the Big Piney Learning Center. Ultimately, commissioners cited growing concerns about funding pre-school education programs as the reason for denying the request, but it was clear they were still angry over how Martha Ptasnik's dismissal was handled. "We as a County have done a lot for the Learning Center," Betty Fear told Ms. Sullivan, "and I wouldn't feel bad about denying this request this year, and I want to get out from this in the future."

Photo credits:  Kim Brokling

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