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Eden Valley social hub celebrates anniversary

Open house set for Sunday, Dec. 4 at clubhouse
By: Martha Garcia, Colfax Record Editor
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A club established initially to lobby for improvements on Placer Hills Road is now celebrating its 64th anniversary. The Eden Valley Community Center, formed in 1947 as the Eden Valley Improvement Club, has become a meeting and social center for the residents of the rural community who live between Colfax and Weimar. In a club history dated 1983, the late Virginia Lansing, a founding member, wrote that in 1946 she circulated a petition to give their community the name of either Green Eden or Eden Valley. “It was voted to call the area between the underpass [railroad tunnel] to the east, New England Mills Road to the west (now Weimar Cross Road) and up New England Mills Road to the outer boundary of Henry Lloyd’s property Eden Valley.” The group also petitioned the county to have Eden Valley placed on the map and to change the name of the roadway – at the time known officially as Auburn Colfax Road – to Placer Hills Road. “Asking people to quit calling it the ‘Back Road’ posed a problem for some of the old timers. Habits are hard to break,” Lansing wrote. Someone else familiar with the original club is 92-year-old Ivy Norton, another founding members. In a 2004 interview with the Colfax Record, Norton remembered the time before Eden Valley got its name. “We hated the thought of always being called the Back Road. We wanted the road and the area to have names that we all liked,” Norton said. A request in October 1946 by the 4-H Club to perform in front of the group also spurred the club’s formation. “We met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Halton (who later donated land for the clubhouse) and the embryo of a community club was hatched,” Lansing wrote. “At the same time, we received a byline in the Colfax Record, another first for us.” Later that month, the club’s first regular meeting was held at the New England Mills School. “And an active club has existed every since,” she wrote. For more than 30 years, Norton was head of the Eden Valley Rummage Sale, which was held twice yearly. Proceeds support local firemen, supply Christmas baskets for families in need and maintain the clubhouse. A rummage sale was held in July. Christina Slowick, Eden Valley Community Center president, said she remembers that besides being one of the founding members, Norton was the “matron of the rummage sale.” “At the sale, after doing hours of work, she would sit and bargain with people (to get) as much as the price was or even more as a donation to the club,” Slowick said. The community center now depends on clubhouse rentals and membership dues to finance maintenance and improvements to the building. Beth McMurtrie is the Eden Valley Community Center treasurer and spearheads club events. She’s proud of recent improvements to the clubhouse, which she hopes will make it more appealing for public rental. “We have just redone the floor. It’s a dandy place to rent for big family dinners or small receptions … I have had family dinners there. It’s a big area. After you’ve finished eating there’s room to play cards, or pingpong or whatever,” McMurtrie said. A new porch has also been installed by Jerry Ross, who looks after the building. McMurtrie said the center’s capacity of 80 people works well for large or small clubs or group meetings, such as the yoga classes held weekly. Rental rates run from $40 for a half-day to $75 for a full day, plus $35 if kitchen use is needed. For more information on rentals, call Ross at 277-1274. The club has about 40 members and is accepting new memberships, which are $20 per year. The club invites present and former members, as well as the public, to its holiday open house, featuring dessert and a hors d’oeuvres potluck, planned for 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, to honor club members and to showcase improvements made at the center during the year. The address is 21400 Placer Hills Road, Eden Valley, CA 95713. Colfax Postmaster Susan Wycoff said that although 95713 is the Colfax zip code, Eden Valley residents are allowed to use their community’s name in their address. “We’re able to designate in our data base communities that choose for their own identity, to have a name within our zip code,” Wycoff said.