Roeder Home Task Force still unformed

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Sheri Ward has contributed this guest article. Sheri was the editor of the Whatcom Independent weekly newspaper. She wrote a first article on this Roeder Home issue on Nov 19.
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At the Nov. 25 Whatcom County Council meeting, County Executive Pete Kremen promised the formation of a task force to find ways to continue the arts and music programs that have been a long-standing tradition at the Roeder Home.

As of this writing, only two people have been invited to be part of the task force – Flip Breskin and Molly Faulkner. According to Parks Director Mike McFarlane, further appointments will probably not be made until after Kremen’s return from vacation on Dec. 16.

The delay of three weeks is a lengthy one for a task force that has been given only until the end of March to come up with a plan for the Roeder Home. Failing any viable proposal by the task force, the many arts and music events and classes that have been hosted at the Roeder Home, along with the annual Holiday Arts and Craft show, may well be a thing of the past.

McFarlane said there is currently no budget authority to operate the Roeder Home arts program past the end of December. He said the movement of administrative offices into the home, which he considered to be separate from funding for the arts program, may or may not happen. Kremen, at the Nov. 25 council meeting, suggested that the administrative offices might be moved into the carriage house adjacent to the Roeder Home, but McFarlane said there are no plans for such a move.

McFarlane said the building will be available for public use and rental. For an evening’s rental of the home, the rental rate for 2009 for a county resident would be $180 for a week-day evening, $250 for a Friday evening, and $300 for a Saturday or Sunday evening. Classrooms may be rented at a rate of $10 per hour with a two-hour minimum.

For groups that have met at the Roeder Home regularly in the past, such as the Whatcom County Homemade Music Society, there is an application form for special events and the home could be rented by contract at a reduced rate. An hourly rate for such groups has been proposed to be $18 per hour, but McFarlane said the county council still needs to approve that rate.

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