Elma’s library, infant room named for Whitinger families

ELMA - With Thanksgiving a few days prior and Christmas around the corner, members of the Elma Community Complex (ECC) felt it was the perfect time to recognize those who have been instrumental in helping the project move forward.
On Sunday, Nov. 27, an open house and ribbon cuttings were held at the complex and celebrated all that has been accomplished in five years. That includes relocating the public library to the complex and constructing a new infant room in the Elma Early Childhood Center (EECC). City Hall will soon be moving to the complex, as well.
And as long as there is an open house, the board decided to show its gratitude for those who have donated strongly to the facility and challenged others to donate as well.
The new infant room was named in honor of the Kathy and Joe Whitinger family for their unwavering commitment, and the Elma Public Library was named in honor of the Jason Whitinger and the Josh and Jessy Whitinger families for their contributions.
Librarian Renee Burke, who has been in her position for 10 years, gave a presentation on how the plan evolved over time. She noted it was first talked about in 2017. 
The elementary school had closed in June 2014, and community leaders were trying to figure out a way to utilize the building.
The town got some help from an Iowa State University team of students. Elma was part of the Shrink Smart Community Study. Students from art and architecture departments came to Elma several times. They made up a design in June 2019. They even incorporated the old murals from the high school/elementary building and the “Public School” corner stone in the design.
Unfortunately, the school could not be saved and had to be torn down, but the old school gym was used. It was insulated and rooms were added, including the library, city hall office and community room. The new infant room was constructed next to the EECC.
Burke was happy to report, the community room has been used for the Library’s summer reading program, preschool, Bingo and Helping Services.
Wagons were used to haul books and furnishings from the old library to the new. “My number one priority was being in the same buildings as the day care.” It allows the children and their parents easy access to checking out books.
“In the old building, there was no place for the kids to sit and do homework. Now they can,” she added.
Burke found an interesting newspaper clipping from 1972. It was about Elma 
Another project rolled into the ECC project was the Elma Clinic. It was not feasible to put the clinic in the bigger facility, but it is up and running a few blocks away.
There are still some projects  that need done, including entrances, exterial brick and murals, restrooms, flooring daycare updates and finishing touches. That adds up to about $50,000. But that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what the residents of Elma have raised through fund-raising, grants and donations — over $1.2 million.
Who knows what Elma’s next project be. But it will likely stick with the town’s motto “A great place to visit, a better place to live.”

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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