The Kiwanis Chico Community Observatory will officially reopen tomorrow after power issues caused by degraded batteries shut down the observatory on November 14.
During the closure the observatory’s staff asked for donations to cover the costs to replace the twelve batteries and cover the cost of labor. Koenig indicated an anonymous donor made a $5,000 donation through the North Valley Community Foundation.
“We’re ecstatic when we got the call from the North Valley Community Foundation,” said Kris Koenig, the observatory’s director. “Heroes do exist.”
Koenig explained it took a couple weeks for the batteries to be ordered and installed but repairs concluded on Wednesday in order for the observatory to resume its normal operational hours-Thursday through Sunday nights 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., pending weather.
The shutdown caught the attention of the Chico Sunrise Rotary Club who approached Koenig with a long-term agreement to cover the yearly operational overhead, provide scholarships for student docents, and set aside funding for future repairs to the solar power system. As an act of good faith, they sealed the new deal with a $1,200 donation.
“We (the docents) took over the operation of the observatory from the Greater Chico Kiwanis Club in 2010 right in the middle of the recession,” Koenig said. “Donations fell off the cliff; those that we did received only allowed us to cover property and liability insurance, and basic supplies. This commitment by the Chico Sunrise Rotary will give us the financial footing to move forward with not only with weekly operations, but to take on some needed improvements that were put off due to lack of funding,”
The observatory is operated by an all-volunteer staff through the Pacific Center for Astronomical Outreach – a non-profit 501 (c) (3). You can follow the observatory activities and get more information at www.Facebook.com/chicocommunityobservatory.