ARIPEKA — It’s been all hands on deck in Pasco County’s tiny fishing village to raise the cash needed to replace the failing air conditioning system in the Aripeka Community Center building that sits at the north end of the village, on the Hernando County side.
It took weeks, but book sales at the town library, a chili cook-off, farmer’s markets and monthly community pot-lucks eventually brought in the more than $2,000 needed. But fate stepped in and now it’s back to square one.
The septic system at the community center recently failed, taking most of the money needed for the much-needed air conditioner to install a new septic pump.
“Wouldn’t you know it?” said Lou Charity, a community member and author, who sold his historical books about Aripeka at the town library to help raise money. “When it rains it pours.”
But little Aripeka has been around for 170 years and has survived everything from run-ins with Seminoles, the Civil War, the Great Depression and more than a few hurricanes, so a little setback like this isn’t about to slow anyone down. Emergency fundraising begins anew with a craft, bake, yard sale and business exposition event Aug. 24.
The event will be held at the community center, 1393 Osowaw Blvd, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Bakers, crafters, business owners who want to advertise their services or sell their wares and those who want to bring anything for sale can purchase a table for $10. Those interested can get more information or reserve tables by calling 352-683-9611 and asking for Meridy.
Proceeds will be used to replace the aging AC system so the building can once again be a more hospitable place to hold events, said Rene Bennett, Aripeka’s head librarian and a community member.
“Right now it’s just so hard to get it cool,” said Bennett, pointing to the thermostat at the center during the recent community potluck event. “Even if it’s on all day, it just doesn’t cool down.”
Among the regular uses for the building is a Sunday church service for the homeless. The church moved services to the building to get out of the weather and heat, as services were being held outdoors in a parking lot at the ACTS Community Resource Center, on U.S. 19 in Hudson.
Despite the less than stellar cooling in the building, Pastor Rick Dean is thankful to Aripeka.
“It’s great we finally feel like we have a home; we’re not nomads,” said Dean. “It’s nice to have a place we can call our church.”