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Centralia’s SMART Program getting new home

Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Centralia’s SMART program has a new home.

Depending on the number of  helping hands she can round up, Lisa Matthiesen, the programs founder and librarian at Chester Boren Middle School, says she hopes to open the doors at 320 B East Railroad St, the former laundromat behind Prengers Extreme Mart, shortly after Labor Day.

SMART students Caleb Towne and Skyler Chaffin, along with SMART Director Lisa Matthiesen holding the key to the front door at the program’s new home on Railroad Street.

SMART students Caleb Towne and Skyler Chaffin, along with SMART Director Lisa Matthiesen holding the key to the front door at the program’s new home on Railroad Street.

Matthiesen said the move germinated in her mind three years ago when she was helping SMART students collect their belongings and crafts equipment after one of program’s after-school sessions at CIS.

“I just thought, ‘wouldn’t it be nice if they didn’t have to take all their stuff home, if they and the program had lockers or closets  to keep things in until the next meeting,” Matthiesen said as she helped hand out produce at the conclusion of free lunch for kids program at the Centralia City Park. “It became my goal that the kids have their own building before I retired, a place where they did not have to pack up their supplies whenever they were done.”

She said she approached Kevin Prenger about the former laundromat last year and he said “come and take a look.”

Matthiesen did and though the pair took no action at the time, the possibility stuck in her head.

This year when it became clear that funding from the school district for the program was going to be in short supply, the topic came up again.

This time, she said, the Prenger family offered a lease with one year’s forgiveness on the rent, “to give us time to get on our feet and get the grants coming in,” Matthiesen said.

For the complete article, please see this week’s edition of  the Centralia Fireside Guard.