WEST JEFFERSON —The steps leading up to the Ashe County Library in West Jefferson will soon undergo a makeover to commemorate the accomplishments of Imagination Ashe for their 10th anniversary which is to be celebrated next year.
Kathy Chefas, President of the Board of Directors for Imagination Ashe, appeared before the West Jefferson Board of Alderman on Monday, Oct. 5 to give an update on the project which includes two new sculptures and subtle changes to the existing steps.
Next August, Imagination Ashe will celebrate it’s 10th anniversary with a dedication of the project which symbolizes a child climbing the steps to literacy.
“The very first words we are going to say on the steps are ‘building a way to literacy one step at a time’ which is exactly what Imagination Ashe is,” Chefas said.
Imagination Ashe is an affiliate of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library that was founded by Dolly Parton in 1996 in Sevier County, Tennessee. The program sends a book by mail once a month to children up to five-years-old.
The Imagination Library has since expanded into 1,600 local communities in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Australia and supplies 750,000 children with books each month.
Imagination Ashe officially kicked off in the summer of 2006 at Ashe Park and by Jan. 2007, 225 books arrived in the mailboxes of children throughout the county which currently has a illiteracy rate of 14 percent.
According to the 2010 census, there were approximately 1,500 preschoolers in Ashe County and Chefas says their program is reaching 725 of them.
In addition to lettering being placed on the steps, two bronze sculptures will also be added.
According to Chefas, one sculpture will be placed on the existing bench by the library steps and is titled “teach me,” featuring two children reading to each other. The second sculpture features a little boy sitting underneath a mailbox reading a book.
“All books from Imagination Ashe are mailed to children and we were excited to find this bronze sculpture that encapsulates exactly what we do,” Chefas said. “We felt that these different sculptures would add to the beauty of the project.”
The total cost of the project is estimated at $20-25,000 with $15,000 for the sculptures and $10,000 to create an endowment program.
Chefas, who has been involved with the program for four years, said that major fundraising will begin next year and she is already working to gain corporate sponsors.
According to Chefas, the design for the project is simple and subtle.
“That’s what Imagination Ashe is all about too, the simple reading to the children and increasing their vocabularies and love of learning and reading,” Chefas said.
West Jefferson Aldermen commended Chefas for the program and the project.
“I think the library is something that Ashe County should be very proud of because there’s not many libraries like that in the whole state,” Alderman John Reeves said.
Imagination Ashe’s 10th anniversary celebration and dedication is set for Aug. 20, 2016.
The board also discussed new public restrooms planned for West Jefferson during their Monday meeting.
According to Darron Dotson of Luray Construction Service Inc., the new restrooms will be located at 106 South Jefferson Ave. in Downtown West Jefferson and will feature facilities for both men and women.
Dotson said restrooms will be easy to clean since walls and ceilings will be coated with epoxy paint rather than tile. The restrooms will also have multiple drains and concrete flooring.
“Everything can be sprayed down at any time, that’s the reason we use epoxy paint,” Luray Construction Services President Kevin Nichols said. “It’s durable, and can be easily cleaned.”
The restrooms will have 9-foot, 4-inch ceilings, utility closets, and the ability to be heated and cooled.
According to Nichols, drawings for the restrooms are 95 percent complete and will require slight modifications before being finished.
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.