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COQUILLE — After six years on the South Coast, the Coquille Carousel Association will disband and discontinue its efforts to build a carousel attraction in Coos County.

Lack of funding, community support and a growing number of health concerns for it members were among some of the reasons cited for the recent disbandment, said the group’s president Ophie Keene.

“We hit a wall and just couldn’t get past it,” said Keene. “We weren’t getting much support.”

According to Keene, the group had raised about $90,000 over the years and had secured a contract with the city of Coquille to construct the carousel on the former Georgia Pacific site in Coquille.

As part of that contract, the group had approximately five years to begin construction or show the city significant progress which it failed to do, said Keene.

“We had to do some very expensive topographical and geotechnical surveys on the property that costed a lot of money,” she said.

The group she added struggled to secure additional funding including grants and volunteers needed to keep the project afloat. In addition to the carousel, the project also included a new carving workshop, a gathering room and a gift shop.

The estimated cost for the overall project was believed to be about $2 million. Although the group has dissolved Keene said local master carver Ken Means hasn’t given up on finding a home for the carousel’s animals and will continue working on them until they do.

As of now, the group is working on informing their sponsors of the group’s status and returning funds accordingly. According to treasurer Shirley Bower, the funds will either be returned to the sponsor or redirected to another non-profit organization.

“We suggested donating to the Coquille Library, the Coquille Riverwalk or the Coquille Art Center, but really people can choose any nonprofit they’d like,” said Bower.

The group’s remaining supplies will be donated to the Cottage Grove carousel.

‘We greatly appreciate all the support we’ve gotten over the years,” said Keene. “While it’s a very sad and emotional time for us right now, we wanted to let all our volunteers know they’ve been fantastic and to thank everyone who helped along the way.”

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Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.

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