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Jefferson School Press Conference


Westside Community Improvement Association president Heidi Benzonelli addresses the crowd at a press conference announcing the $3.3 million dollar grant to convert Jefferson School into a Public Park and Community Recreation Facility.

  1. Derral Campbell
    April 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Hats off, congrats. Great news for west Eureka.

  2. David Boyd
    April 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    This is one of the most encouraging things I have heard in a long time. A united community can get things done! Congratualtions to Heidi and all of the Westsiders involved in this project.

  3. April 13, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    This is such great news.

  4. Gil Yule
    April 14, 2012 at 7:19 am

    As a resident southeast-sider I’m delighted about this wonderful news for our westside brether and sistern. The whole city and especially the westside can use some positive news and we will all benefit from their hard work on this project. Huzza!

  5. Anonymous
    April 14, 2012 at 8:32 am

    3.3 million dollar grant?!

  6. April 14, 2012 at 9:55 am

    For the common good–Cogratulaions for Perserverance!!!!

  7. Westsider
    April 14, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Just what we needed: another “park” filled with junkies and gang bangers. Keep your heads down when walking nearby.

  8. Anonymous
    April 14, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Uncontrolled spending !

  9. Anonymous
    April 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    So 10:57, what do we do?
    1. Send the State Bond money back and have it spent on a park in another community? It can’t, by law, go into the general fund.
    2. Use the money for security, roads, schools? – even though that would be illegal.
    3. Lobby the voters and legislature not to approve bonds and rescind bonds going back to 2005 – probably not feasible and we would still have this money appropriated and a change would take long enough that the 3.3 would either be spent here or on a park elsewhere.

    So, work to change the system, but stop trying to imply that something is wrong with using this money to improve Eureka. What would you do other than post “pot shots” at hard working community-minded people and their accomplishments?

  10. Heidi Benzonelli
    April 14, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Westsider, FYI, the grafitti has stopped, children are playing on the basketball courts “right now”. Throngs of community members have participated in clean ups and planning, bringing their children and modeling working toggether for the common good. Low self esteem and lack of belonging exacerbates drug addiction and gangs, we are doing the opposite. We are bringing people together. Please hold your head high when walking by, this will improve Eureka as a whole and we should all be proud (even the junkies and gang bangers).

  11. Eric Kirk
    April 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I have to say that the park over on E-Street is a good example. It was run down with lots of vandalism before the upgrade. There’s a little grafitti and vandalism (though it could also be just wear and tear), but it’s holding up pretty well. I think Jefferson Park (is there going to be another name?) will generate even more pride.

  12. April 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    We could learn a lot from the people who have worked to make this happen. Let’s help make the Jefferson Project successful.

  13. skippy
    April 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    When Jefferson School was a closed and boarded up piece of window-shattered blight, tweakers, sots, pimps, fallen angels, soiled doves and the errant out-of-their-mind ne’er-do-wells flitted there like moths dancing to the wicked flames. The neighborhood deteriorated. It was a mess o’ problems. As the residents tell the story, it was like an episode of Gunsmoke gone horribly bad. Refusing to accept their plight like pigs in a poke, they formed a posse and named it the WCIA. They set about cleaning up Dodge themselves. There was no other choice. Jefferson School was the new OK Corral—ground zero—and it was ripe for a cleanup showdown.

    Witnessing the Jefferson School walkthrough a year ago– and seeing it firsthand again this week– what this posse accomplished has been nothing short of spectacular. The litter, garbage, and broken glass were gone. Windows and lights were repaired, floors scraped, surfaces washed, and new paint covers the walls throughout. The playground was cleared of weeds, the gardening and landscaping completed, and the leftover junkie needles and stanky overflowing toilets moved to a better place. It not only looks better, it smells better. Jefferson School is no longer the ugly, embarrassing, criminally dirty and mildew-ridden kind of Deadwood place it once was, whispered about only in private among the more genteel circles of polite and well connected City folk. It’s a much quieter, cleaner, and pleasant locale nowadays.

    A hundred or more committed people– and thousands of volunteer work hours– made this happen. Giving the WCIA some money last year along with others, yours truly is pleased to say they put it to a good and honest use. From my observation they also followed my #1 rule for donations and charitable worthiness: squeeze that nickel ’til the buffalo shits.

    The Jefferson School neighborhood, families, and users will be keeping a very close eye on their hard-won school, park, and ‘hood. The recent $3.3 million award is a serious affirmation towards making a sweeter smelling and revitalized silk purse out of a stinky sow’s ear– and helping clean up Dodge when others wouldn’t.

  14. Heidi Benzonelli
    April 14, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Thanks Skippy!

  15. What Now
    April 14, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Excellent post, Skippy.

  16. 1st District Voter
    April 14, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Perseverance is omnipotent.

  17. A-nony-mouse
    April 14, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Best news in Eureka in 20 years!!

  18. Heidi Benzonelli
    April 15, 2012 at 10:41 am

    “Windows and lights were repaired, floors scraped, surfaces washed, and new paint covers the walls throughout… landscaping completed, and the leftover junkie needles and stanky overflowing toilets cleaned and repaired.”

    Thank you K&M glass,Trinidad Electric, Redwood Coast Energy Authority, Floorplay, Mike Hiney, Susan Huntress Landscapes, Wes Green, Pierson Building Center, and OBD Plumbing (big time!) and more.

    The nail Skippy hit was “squeeze the buffalo”. These guys above (and many more) helped us squeeze. When we turned the water on to the building it leaked like a sieve, urinals ran, drinking fountains flooded the floor, the sloan valves (20 of them) had been removed from the toilets and supplies barely capped. Darrell from OBD said, let me in, does this coffee pot work? A day later…not a leak. On a Sunday afternoon, 2 feet of water in the basement from a fried pump, once again…let me in, water evacuated, pump replaced (btw he also donated the labor to install the irrigation for the Unity Garden). As neighbors commented on activities at the back of the building at night, Trinidad Electric and RCEA joined together and got all our security lighting up to snuff and improved energy efficiency for <$300, donated by Eureka United Methodist Church and matched 65% by PG&E. Floorplay, came in to lead a group of Americorps and CCC to show them how to prep the floors by hand without damaging them, Susan Huntress took one look at the front doors and said " you cant have a press conference like this" we had had 200 people do lanscaping in the pouring rain for ceasar Chavez but, it wasnt quite finished, Susan hustled donated chips from Wes Green and lumber from Piersons showed up with 2 guys in the worst storm of the year and detailed the landscaping in front for the press conference. A community volunteer pushed the lawnmower in the pouring rain empting the bag every row. K&M cut their prices to cost to help imrove the dignity of the neighborhood and fix the windows in the South Building, and we still cant figure out how Jerry from T&T plugged all the leaks in the roof for as cheap as he did (Jerry you couldn't have even covered your materials!).

    What I am saying is squeezing that buffalo was a community effort, I have been proud to say (without exagerating) that we have been able to leverage every dollar 10 fold by matching it with specialty tradesmen, discounted prices, donated materials and volunteer labor, but these guys were willing, invested and proud to be of service to the community. This project has been and will continue to be a community effort. I just can not give enough thanks to all the businesses and individuals that comtinue to support the Jefferson Project. Heart felt Thanks.

    We have added a list of supporters to our website http://www.jefferson-project.org and it continues to grow.

  19. tra
    April 15, 2012 at 10:53 am

    What a great example of “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Outstanding!

  20. Anonymous
    April 16, 2012 at 3:30 am

    I hope to soon move to about 2 blocks away.

    I had followed this story for some time now and just realized how close I will be!

    Congratulations on the very best of community accomplishment!

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