PULASKI – The former Pulaski Elementary School, sold two years ago and rechristened as the River Valley Community Resource Center, will have a three-day grand opening celebration, starting with a 1 p.m. Thursday ribbon cutting.
Purchased in March 2019 by Pulaski Township residents and local business owners Joseph Goodge and his wife, Zenia, the 30,000-square-foot facility has been transformed into a regional resource and event center serving Lawrence County and surrounding communities. It is at 320 Shenango St. in Pulaski.
The grand opening celebration will feature the official reveal of a specially designed feature: a panoramic mural depicting several historical landmarks of Pulaski Township by local artist Kimberly Koller-Jones, who also serves as executive director of the Hoyt Center for the Arts.
“We wanted to incorporate the history of the area with several historic landmarks into the design of the building,” Joseph Good said. “When we mentioned the idea to Kimberly, she jumped at the chance to lend her talents to the project.”
The painting took 80 to 100 hours to complete. It was a labor of love for the art director.
“I welcomed the opportunity and challenge of the mural project,” Koller-Jones said. “It was a blank canvas, which can often be intimidating, but I think history is important and having the opportunity to capture the contributions of the town to the early growth of Lawrence County is also important.”
The Wilmington Area School District had closed its Pulaski Elementary School in 2017 because of declining enrollment, eventually putting the building and its contents up for auction in March 2019.
The Goodge family saw the opportunity to buy the former school and bought the building and 12 acres of adjoining property, including a ball field, at auction.
“My wife and I saw the opportunity to acquire the school with a vision to repurpose the space to turn it into something that the community and regional can continue to utilize,” Goodge said. “We recognized the emotional attachment that many of us had to the school as elementary school students. As a former student of the school and where my son and daughter also attended, it’s a place where thousands of students and many teachers walked through the halls — we want to continue that legacy in our community.”
The property boasts modifiable space that can be used for private parties, office leases, special events, trade shows, conferences, or as a training center. Also, an indoor gymnasium, outdoor ballpark and pavilion are available for rentals. The indoor gymnasium has a full-sized basketball court but also can be used for classes such as yoga, meditation, or any activity requiring large spaces.
The facility hosted its first event, the Merry Making Christmas Community Fundraiser in December 2019, had a Ukrainian Easter Egg Workshop in January 2020 and presented a holiday craft fair in November.