Small town, Big future pt. 1: Elma Community Complex

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(ABC 6 NEWS) – One local community is undergoing some big changes, and they are about to see their hard work pay off in Elma, Iowa.

In 2015, the elementary school in Elma closed and the property was handed over to the city. The next big question was what should the city do with the building?

After forming a committee, they came up with some options. One idea was to renovate it.

"It was not in the best interest to try to fix all of that up," Elma City Clerk Shannon Gebel said.

The other idea was to create something brand new.

They wanted to add on to the daycare, turn the gym into a public library, bring in the city clerk’s office and add a medical clinic.

The project became known as the Elma Community Complex.

"We saw it as a hub where you know we could have activities and the entities would benefit," said Elma Community Complex Volunteer Erin Ludwig.

When starting the project, the group wanted to make sure to keep costs low and only build when they had the funds.

"We knew we had to do it with a combination with several large donors, a lot of grants, and help from a lot of smaller donors," said Elma Community Complex Committee Member Bruce Weigel.

"Quite frankly we are just moving along as funding allows, and we would love to be done in six months but we need money," said Ludwig.

They’ve held everything from chili cook-offs to concerts to help them get closer to their $1.2 million goal.

The community has stepped up over the past few years. So far they have raised around a million dollars.

"Small communities volunteers is what makes things happen. We do not have paid staff on the city level to accomplish any of those things. So volunteerism is what makes things run," said Weigel.

The project has been moving along quickly as funds started coming in.

The old school building was torn down in Spring 2020.

The medical clinic has been built and is up and running.

Now they are working on expanding the daycare, finishing the library, city clerk’s office and community room.

Wednesday on ABC 6 News Good Morning, we will head back to Elma and see how this project is already helping the entire community.