Ceremony for Valley Community Center planned for Wednesday in Baggs, Wyo.
May 7, 2011
The Valley Community Center has been uniting citizens of the Little Snake River Valley in Wyoming for more than 20 years.
For much of that time, the center was an idea pinned to a wall.
Now, after decades spent in funding limbo, idling on and off government agendas, community members are finally readying for a ribbon cutting.
The new $2.8 million facility in Baggs, Wyo., officially opens Wednesday at a ceremony celebrating the "never-give-up attitude" local supporters have shown since the project's inception.
"It could not have happened without a lot of community members working together," said Cindy McKee, a member of the Joint Powers Board responsible for the Valley Community Center.
"I mean, in the attempts to get grants and to get land … contributing financially, but also time and being really persistent through the hurdles they had to jump through."
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Over the years, those grassroots efforts were rewarded, slowly, with pledges of support from corporations, out-of-town visitors and two governors.
McKee said contributions totaling $3 million from Devon Energy, the Wyoming State Loan and Investments Board, and the Wyoming Business Council helped green-light the project, which opened for public use in December.
Since then, McKee said the response from valley citizens to the center's various amenities — including basketball and volleyball courts, a cafeteria, kitchen, exercise classes and rooms, and foosball and ping-pong tables — has been overwhelmingly positive.
She recounted an exemplary exchange from a fundraising ball that raised more than $27,000 for the center.
"One of the comments I got after the ball was, 'Cindy, the only time I ever get to see all those faces together in one place is when we have a funeral,'" she said. "That one really, really struck home with me. The vision for (the center) always has been to, No. 1, have a place where the community can congregate. We really didn't have a large location except the school gym."
The Wednesday ceremony, McKee said, is the first opportunity the valley's towns have had to formally thank those who helped make the center a reality, including Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, who is scheduled to deliver the keynote address.
"It's our opportunity to express our gratitude to several entities that, really, it would not have happened without them," McKee said. "We expect former (Wyoming) Gov. Dave Freudenthal also to attend because he was also very instrumental to us. We'll have an old-fashioned ribbon cutting. … We'll have a barbecue meal and just enjoy some time together."
The grand opening and barbecue are scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday at 255 W. Osborne St., Baggs, Wyo.
For more information, call the center at (307) 383-2166.