Centennial funds donated to Raulerson Log Cabin project

OKEECHOBEE — At their April 12 meeting, Okeechobee County Commissioners voted to donate the $16,248 that remained from funds raised for the county’s centennial celebration to the Peter and Louisiana Log Cabin restoration project.

The county centennial celebration was in 2017. The county donated $10,000 toward the celebration events. The volunteer centennial committee raised another $34,315.90 through sponsorships and sale of commemorative merchandise. In addition, the committee generated a number of “in kind” contributions from community members, organizations and businesses.

The year-long celebration included a kick-off street dance in January 2017, a community birthday party and barn dance at the Agri-Civic Center, historic bus tours, a speaker series, and the Centennial Celebration dinner/dance.

With the exceptions of historic bus tours (which were conducted by the Okeechobee Historical Society), and the dinner/dance, the centennial celebration events were free and open to the public.

The committee also had booths at various public events to sell commemorative items such as Tervis tumblers and Christmas ornaments.

Total expenditures for the centennial events was $28,067.77, leaving a balance of $16,248.

The Centennial Committee members at the end of 2017 were as follows: (0riginal members) Magi Cable, chair; Mayor Dowling Watford, vice chair; Sharie Turgeon, facilitator; Kay McCool; Corey Wheeler; Mariah Anuez; Katrina Elsken, Kathy Scott; Ed Thornton; Sharon Cannon and (newest member) Jonathan Holt.

During the planning of the centennial activities the committee agreed that any unexpended dollars at the end of the events should be utilized for a project or donated to a good cause that would commemorate Okeechobee County’s Centennial Year. By unanimous vote, the committee recommended the funds go to the Peter and Louisiana Log Cabin restoration project.

Mrs. Cable, who is also president of the Okeechobee Historical Society, explained that the Historical Society has raised $60,000 in donations for the log cabin project, The historic home was purchased for $50,000. The Historical Society is raising more money for the restoration,

She said the Historical Society will seek grants, and the funding from the county will go toward the required matching funds.

She said the house will need foundation and roof work. In addition, the electrical wiring will have to be brought up to code.

“We already know that,” she said. “It is 126 years old.”

She said they will start with removing the paneling of the home’s interior to expose the log walls.

Mrs. Cable said a lot of community members and organizations have volunteered to help.

“We have already reached out to the contractor’s association,” she said.

“The construction group at the high school has said they will help.”

She said they will provide the county with a list to show where the money goes.

When restored, the log cabin will be a museum which will be available for tours. The location is helpful because it is close enough for some school groups to walk to it, she added. Other organizations could also use the building, she said.

This is the Raulerson home now enclosed in a newer home in Okeechobee.

Commissioner David Hazellief noted a church that is in Peter Raulerson’s name is just two blocks away from the cabin. He asked if that could be preserved as well.

Mrs. Cable said Peter Raulerson built that church, the first church in Okeechobee, and the Historical Society would like to see it preserved.

“I have been talking to the city a lot about it,” she said. She added there are numerous Raulerson descendants to contact.

On the recommendation of the Centennial Committee, the county commissioners also voted to donate the unsold commemorative items to the Okeechobee Historical Society.

The final inventory includes 31 Christmas ornaments, 78 lapel pins, 98 Tervis tumblers, 23 tumbler lids, and 175 mason jar mugs. (The committee originally purchased 300 ornaments, 500 lapel pins, 400 Tervis tumblers, 200 tumbler lids and 500 mason jar mugs.)

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