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Endowment funds renovation, Ligonier veterans projects

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

This summer, two Ligonier area veterans will ride atop a raft down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

As part of the Ligonier Endowment's first-quarter awards, the trip will be offered to two area residents as part of an adventure therapy program through Canyon Heroes, a nonprofit headquartered in Ligonier that seeks to serve veterans suffering from physical or psychological wounds.

Endowment board member John “Jack” McDowell said he took the same trip down the Colorado on a vacation.

“It's a life-changing event,” he said. “I can see how taking some of these guys who are having trouble plugging back into life, for whatever reason, I can see how a trip like that could certainly help them get back into a better place than they are right now.”

Canyon Heroes board member Margery Hermann said a trip is scheduled for August to take 12 veterans and two therapists on the seven-day rafting excursion. The veterans have not been chosen yet, Hermann said.

Another contribution from the endowment will help to update the banquet and restroom facilities at the Barn at Ligonier, the home of the Christian group, Valley Youth Network.

“We're giving the bathrooms a major facelift and updating other interior aspects of the upstairs,” said Kip Crumrine, executive director of the network.

The organization owns the building on Springer Road. It relies on income from renting out the upstairs banquet facility and money raised during monthly fundraisers to cover the costs of programs and the maintenance of the building.

Crumrine said there's about 50 weddings scheduled this summer at the facility.

“This project is important because it's a good source of revenue for us, and it's major exposure for the community. The weddings, banquets, auctions and reunions held here are bringing lots and lots of people into town from other areas,” Crumrine said. “I think it generates some good business for the community and some great exposure for the community.”

McDowell said the endowment enjoys being able to support the Valley Youth Network.

“That group has been doing things for the children of this Valley for the last 15, 20 years,” he said.

The New Florence Community Library will also be getting a facelift through a contribution from the endowment.

Library Director Peggy Betz said in previous years, the endowment funded a variety of maintenance projects, including the installation of a new furnace, an upgrade to the insulation and the addition of new lights.

“After the new lights were installed, it brightened the place up a bit, and we could see how worn the carpet really was,” she said. “It's been put to good use, but after 21 years of use — we get an average of 50 people a day in this library from all walks of life with all different types of shoes and boots — it's time to get new carpet.”

The library will be replacing carpet squares, to avoid having to remove all the books and shelves. That means the carpet will be cut, removed and replaced wherever possible.

“It's the most feasible method,” Betz said. “If we had to pack all the books up, take all the shelving out and then unpack everything, the library would be closed for months. This way it will be closed for only about a week.”

The carpet will be replaced in April or May.

“We are happy to be able to provide funding to help a small community maintain a library like that,” McDowell said. “It's because of contributions from groups like the endowment that these libraries can continue.”

In addition, Cook Township was given a contribution from the endowment to assist township officials in covering expenses for insulated garage doors and automatic openers.

The township garage houses most of its equipment and the township office.

Supervisor Mark McKlveen said the garage doors are quite old, lack insulation and are very difficult to manually open and close.

“The funding was certainly a big help to us. The doors will be insulated to help us become a little bit more energy efficient and they will be able to be electronically opened and closed. That alleviates some safety issues of men having to get out of their vehicles and manually open and close the doors, especially in inclement weather,” he said.

“I think the thrust behind this whole contribution is a local entity is trying to become a little more energy efficient and cut back on their costs, and we want to help with that,” McDowell said.

The endowment is accepting applications for its second-quarter awards, due Monday. For more information on how to apply, go to

The organization is also funding the placement of a memorial bench in the Ligonier Town Hall courtyard to honor the late Helen V. Shannon for her many years serving the organization.

Jewels Phraner is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or

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