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Volunteers, board members organize renovation of old Oso School building

OSO — It’s been more than 25 years since the old Oso School building saw a fresh coat of paint. But after four weeks of sanding, scraping and painting, the building’s external walls have begun to sparkle.

The exterior is starting to match the former school’s interior. The building — which has been a community center ever since it closed years ago — has been undergoing extensive renovations thanks to the leadership of a group of volunteers.

For the past few months volunteers from Oso Chapel, under direction from the Oso Community Center Board, have been organizing work parties to power wash and refinish floors, paint interior walls and detail restrooms in the building.

“The (Oso) Community Center Board had the vision but it was a challenge for us to pull together on the labor,” Oso Chapel pastor Gary Ray said.

Ray said the joint effort came together a few months ago after he pitched the idea to the Board that the mostly unused space could be utilized for community classes.

Board members gave their permission and support, and since then church volunteers have served as the muscle for the majority of the repairs.

Work initially began in the building’s upstairs, where workers pulled up old carpet, cleaned window sills, repainted walls and repaired chalk boards.

Volunteers have also been helping replace the upstairs deck and railings.

Repairs then moved downstairs into the building’s basement, where crews have repaired water damaged walls and removed boards from windows.

“This was kind of a catch all room,” Ray said. “It was stuff we didn’t know was here until we got down here.”

After that, Board members decided to continue those renovations outside. They brought on a crew from Arlington-based Northlight Painting to paint the outside of the building.

Northlight, which is operated by Harry Engstrom, an active muralist and painter, should be finished with painting by the middle of September.

Classes could begin as early as October, Ray said.

The hope is to have the downstairs area serve as an activity area, while the upstairs can rooms can be used as classrooms, he said.

The middle floor, which is still occasionally used for craft sale or meetings by the local train club, would likely be used as a greeting area for guests and community members.

Most of the YMCA-style classes will be either free or inexpensive, he added.

Ray said that so far the community has been supporting of the renovations.

“It’s a historic building and folks would like to see it revived,” he said.

Members of the church are currently accepting donations that could be used for its community programs. Those items include notebooks, pens, binders, backpacks, rulers, scissors, coupons or gift cards to Michaels or Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores, glue, knitting needles, guitars, banjos, keyboards, bass guitars, amplifiers, instrument and microphone cords, guitar strings and tuners.

For more information about the upcoming classes or to donate items, contact Ray at 360-435-8027.

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