November 24, 2013

Emery Center preserves Dalton history

The holiday season brings memories and meditations on family and friends, including those long lost.

But after this holiday season, memories could be all Dalton has left of the Emery Center. The center served as Dalton’s only school for black students for more than 40 years and now serves as a museum and educational facility for the city’s history, especially that of its black community.

But it needs to raise $60,000 by year’s end to make needed repairs or it will have to close its doors.

The Emery Center leases the old school building from the city of Dalton but is responsible for all maintenance and repairs to the building. That’s typical in all leases of city buildings to outside groups.

But the Emery Center operates on a shoestring budget, just $13,000 to $14,000 a year, which comes from tour groups, donations and some small grants. It is staffed only by volunteers and has no employees. The center’s budget is so small that officials say they’ve rarely qualified for grants and usually only small ones because they don’t have to the money for the matching funds most large grants require.

So they haven’t had the money to make needed repairs to the 89-year-old building.

It now needs a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, which is estimated to cost $60,000. The center also needs to replace sections of the roof, estimated to cost $20,000; the gutters, $1,200; and the fire alarm system needs repairs and an upgrade.

A city that forgets where it came from may have trouble figuring out where it needs to go. Losing the Emery Center would be a blow to all of Dalton. If you can help at all, please consider donating what you can by mailing a check to P.O. Box 1831, Dalton, GA 30722. For more information contact the center at (706) 277-7633, Curtis Rivers at (706) 280-7695 or visit emerycenter.org.

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