Arts council moving ahead with Startup Gym renovation plans

The Sky Valley Arts Council has announced that it will move forward with its plans to renovate the historic Startup Gym. Tucked quietly away in between Sultan and Gold Bar, the gym sits in the midst of Startup ' a small town with a vibrant history.-á

Formerly known as the town of Wallace, Startup was named after four-term Ballard mayor George Startup, who moved to the Sky Valley in 1898. Startup sought to encourage economic vitality in the region through increased commerce.

He invested in the Wallace Lumber and Manufacturing Company, providing employment to nearly 200 residents of the area. He also was one of the founders of the Citizens Bank of Sultan.

The town eventually had to change its name from Wallace because the postal service kept getting it confused with a town by the same name in Idaho. It changed its name to Startup, as a way of honoring George Startup for his commitment to the town.

Startup was no stranger to community outreach. According to the Sky Valley Arts Council, it was Startup who donated the wood to construct the Startup Gym, which was built primarily by volunteers in 1937. The gym was used for sporting events and other school activities.

Today, the historic building is owned by the Sultan School District and used for storage. Due to budgetary constraints, it has fallen into grave disrepair.

Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Debbie Copple, who also serves as the secretary of the Sky Valley Arts Council, is taking the lead on the Startup Gym Restoration project. As project manager, Copple is looking forward to the renovations and anxious to begin restoring the property. The goal of the Sky Valley Arts Council is to transform the old building into an artistic mecca that can be utilized for art shows, community celebrations and other Sky Valley events.

She knows they have a lot of work ahead of them.-á

"It was built by craftsmen who cared, but it has been neglected for about 20 years,GÇ¥ Copple said. "The building has held up remarkably well, considering the fact that it has had zero attention for a long time.GÇ¥

Copple has had her sights set on the project for several months, but the council had to navigate the necessary legal channels required to obtain access to the property. Public school districts are not allowed to gift funds or property, so the lease negotiations included many legal intricacies. On Aug. 29, Copple happily reported they had been given the green light to proceed.

"The roof is the number one priority. That has to be done before the rains come, because it is raining inside the building,GÇ¥ Copple said. "The gym floor itself is really in pretty good shape, but it's the only thing that's in good shape. The rest of it needs a lot of love.GÇ¥

The council has started fundraising for seed money to help with the project. The top priorities identified, so far, include installing a new roof and gutter system, siding repairs, fresh paint, plumbing repairs, renovating the rain-damaged kitchen and installing new flooring.

Copple would like to pursue PVC membrane roofing and is interested in speaking with professionals who have that type of experience on their resume.

Members of the arts council hope to obtain grants to further their efforts and will be actively working to raise matching funds. They plan to hold work parties and are looking for volunteers. -á -á

"It's going to be like all of our projects have been here in the Sky Valley,GÇ¥ Copple said. "It's going to be done by volunteers.GÇ¥

The Sky Valley Arts Council is a 501(C)3 nonprofit, so all donations made to the council are fully tax-deductible. For more information about the council and the Startup Gym Restoration project, visit

Photo by Chris Hendrickson The Sky Valley Arts Council is moving ahead with plans to renovate the Startup Gym, which has fallen into disrepair over the years. The council recently received permission to proceed from the school district , which owns the building.


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