The Powell MakerSpace has moved to a new location. As of this month, the community resource has relocated to the large, unused basement of the Powell First United Methodist Church at 137 W. Second …
The Powell MakerSpace has moved to a new location. As of this month, the community resource has relocated to the large, unused basement of the Powell First United Methodist Church at 137 W. Second St.
Since its founding, the MakerSpace was housed in a building owned by Park County School District 1, formerly known as the home economics cottage. There were many advantages, such as close proximity to the middle school and the commercial kitchen. But there were disadvantages, too. The space was far larger than was needed and the power bills to keep everyone there comfortable were large as well.
Then, earlier this year, the school district launched its new virtual school, which needed some of the space at the Shoshone Learning Center. And there was also room needed for school mental health services that offered privacy and comfort. The obvious answer was the home ec cottage, meaning MakerSpace had to find new digs.
The search focused on downtown Powell.
A series of focus groups last fall had identified what Powell wanted from MakerSpace. The results shifted the spotlight back to the beginning.
“We are super excited to go back to the basics of MakerSpace,” said Shaylee Hancock, treasurer of the Powell MakerSpace board of directors and VISTA site supervisor.
“We are going to focus on science, technology, engineering and math, the hands-on use of technology,” Hancock said.
“We strive as a nonprofit to provide classes that teach technology usage that the community can afford,” added Rebekah Burns, director of the Powell Economic Partnership/Powell Chamber/Powell Visitor Center.
MakerSpace board members decided to relocate the program to the large, unused basement of the Powell First United Methodist Church.
During a focus group meeting earlier this year, Janita Krayniak, the pastor at First United Methodist Church, had told Hancock to reach out if the MakerSpace needed more room for classes or other needs.
“I looked around at all the cool stuff oriented around family and I could see kids doing that. We have all this space in the basement. I thought, ‘We could house a nonprofit,’” Krayniak said. “And the congregation always said they wished we had more young families. I saw this as a way to use the church for the community, because the church is the community. It is an opportunity to get the families in the door that may not come for another purpose, so it was win-win.”
The plan became formal June 1 and cleaning and clearing the basement of odds and ends was undertaken. The big push of moving a majority of MakerSpace items into the basement came June 5. The big pieces of equipment — a CNC mill and a CNC wood router — were a little trickier than boxes of construction paper. The router is in the new space, said Al Gettings, president of the MakerSpace board, but the mill is in storage for the time being.
“At this point we really haven’t gotten the operations up and running, until we get the safety settings done and get set up for dust collection,” Gettings said.
However, there are already arts and crafts classes, robotics and science programs in the freshly painted rooms.
“The children’s programs are popular and the STEM programs are really popular,” Gettings said. “This is an opportunity to refocus on what the community desires and what MakerSpace can offer to the community. We can focus on continuing education and providing tools a lot of people can’t get for their own homes. It is a chance for people to try them out and learn how to use them.”
Gettings said the partnership with the church was an outstanding solution, because both entities want to serve people.
And even if the congregation doesn’t always see the students in the basement, the connections are real.
“There were a lot of smiles [Sunday] when church members found sidewalk chalk drawings,” Krayniak said. “It brought joy to so many to have kids back in the building.”