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Open house planned June 12 at Raven

| June 9, 2004 12:00 AM

Communities for a Great Northwest and Provider Pals are hosting an open house on Saturday, June 12, at Historic Raven Natural Resource Learning Center to showcase nationally recognized restoration efforts.

The two organizations recently received a Preserve America Presidential Award from President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at the White House. The organizations were nominated for the award by the Kootenai National Forest.

³It¹s been a long, old pull but together we have done something amazing and we¹d like to share the success with the community,² said Bruce Vincent, executive director of Provider Pals. ³It was an honor to be nominated and amazing to have won.²

The open house is scheduled from 1-3 p.m. at Raven, 30 miles south of Libby on U.S. Highway 2.

The program will include the presentation of the Preserve America Presidential Award and groundbreaking ceremonies on the restoration of the newly named Jim and Carol Hurst Building, for their contributions to the successful restoration and the Provider Pals program.

³One family business in particular, Owens and Hurst Lumber Company in Eureka, has been supporting our restoration and education efforts for over a decade,² Vincent said. ³In an effort to recognize their long-standing, never-wavering support of our education initiatives, we are proud to announce the re-naming of the old Office Building at Raven.²

After restoration is complete, the building will provide housing for students and office space for Provider Pals¹ growing urban/rural cultural exchange program.

The open house will include self-guided tours at the site with staff and volunteers at each building to assist.

At 2 p.m., there will be a short program at the Learning Center Classroom facility. There will be hot dogs, hamburgers and light beverages served in the classroom facility.

Volunteers and staff of CGNW have been working on the buildings at Raven since 1997 and now have a cafeteria, learning center ‹ the Robbe Building, classrooms, boys and girls dormitories, and his and hers handicapped access showers and bathrooms.

Raven¹s history as a Forest Service station began with the construction of the eight buildings between 1932 and 1944, by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The complex was saved from a devastating wildfire in 1984, when Forest Service fire crews put out a fire that literally crept up to its back door.

Raven was unoccupied from the 1970¹s until Communities for a Great Northwest stepped up to adopt it as a learning center in 1997. Since that time, historic preservation specialists have worked tirelessly and volunteers have pledged 17,000 hours to bring the ranger station back to life.

The Historic Raven Natural Resource Learning Center is now home to the innovative educational program ³Provider Pals,² a rural/urban student exchange program that brings hundreds of urban students to Raven each year.

The 30 partners involved with Raven have raised over $1.9 million in grants and contributions from such entities as Ford Motor Company, Lincoln County Commission and Montana Ford Dealers Association, as well as the Forest Service¹s contribution of $25,000.

Vincent said the accomplishments at Raven have been made possible by the hard work of project manager Colleen Snyder and her family, caretakers Marlene and Nick Zelenak and staff and volunteers including Tammy Ivins, Dorothy McBride, Chas Vincent, Echo Vincent, Lacie Vincent, PJ Vincent, Kim Baker and others. Partners in the project have been the U.S. Forest Service, Lincoln County Commissioners, Owens & Hurst Lumber Company, the Robbe Family and Ford Motor Company, as well as others.