Gem and mineral group starts fund-raiser 6.11

Written by David Green.

To anyone driving by Morenci’s historic downtown train depot in recent months, it’s obviously no longer a vacant building.

The State Line Gem and Mineral Society—a regional club of gem collectors and crafters—bought the depot on a land contract in December 2006 and members are slowly working on renovation of the structure.

The work is time-consuming for such a small organization, said club officer Doris Brzezicki of Adrian, particularly when several members are already past the age when they received their invitation to join AARP.

Members have cleaned and painted and they’re currently engaged in an effort to raise a floor to match the height of the adjoining room. They’re also working to dig out the basement.

“There’s so much that needs to be done for restoration of the depot,” Brzezicki said. “We want to maintain the integrity as much as possible, but we want to make it useful.”depot.morenci.jpg

For example, the group is hesitant to schedule an open house because of the difference of floor levels. A temporary ramp is in place now until one portion of the floor is raised.

The group is always looking for new members, Brzezicki said, but they’re also seeking financial help. Fund-raising efforts are planned.

“The main focus is to pay for the depot,” Brzezicki said. “It’s an item of serious concern.”

The group is buying the structure from Roger and Margaret Porter of Morenci.

Club members are selling a variety of items they’ve crafted themselves, such as gemstone bead bracelets and earrings for $5 and gift sets for $25, along with paperweights and plaques for desks. Brzezicki expects that a booth will be set up at Morenci’s Town and Country Festival.

A bigger fund-raiser seeks donations for a supporters’ sidewalk to be built in front of the depot, from the former ticket window to the main sidewalk.

Bricks with engraved, brass plaques are selling for $100. Larger bricks sell for $250 and $500. Club members hope to get the sidewalk project underway by the fall.

The group will also seek grants to help support the purchase of the depot. By having a permanent club house, Brzezicki said, the group will be able to set up equipment and offer classes to area residents.

People in the Morenci area seem to be supportive of the club’s presence, she said, and she wants them to know that the group intends to give that support back through classes and presentations.

• The State Line Gem and Mineral Society schedules meetings on the first Sunday of the month. Anyone interested in the organization is welcome to attend.

The next work day at the depot is planned June 22 and assistance by anyone in the area will be appreciated.

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