New community center to host open house at Taste of Maple Lake

In a few short weeks, the old Security State Bank building in downtown Maple Lake has been given a new lease on life.

On Saturday, the Maple Lake Recovery Center hosted a Fifth Anniversary celebration that featured an open house at its new facility on Birch Avenue (photos appear on page 4).

And from 4 to 7 p.m. on August 22 during the Taste of Maple Lake, a new community center will be unveiled in space provided in the old bank building by the Recovery Center. Additional information on the Taste of Maple Lake appears on page 12.

A group of senior citizens took the idea of a library/resource area initiated by the Town Square Committee and transformed it into a multipurpose center for meetings, demonstrations, resource and historical materials and social gatherings.

Members of the Senior Citizens Club and Senior Connections have been hard at work cleaning, decorating, and obtaining furnishings that will allow a wide variety of uses while also serving to bring people back to the downtown area.

Senior Connections coordinator Ginger O’Loughlin said the project really got off the ground at the auction of the old bank’s furnishings in early July when quick donations by a group of local businesspeople and residents made possible the purchase of chairs and tables for the proposed community center.

O’Loughlin said at that point, volunteers took off with the project and singled out one for special praise. “Janet Hofman has just made this place beautiful with a lot of donations and a lot of time,” she said.  To that, Hofman added, “And a lot of fun, too.”

The new community center now features a couch, tables and chairs for meetings, socializing or as a volunteer work space. O’Loughlin’s Senior Connections office is in one corner and an adjacent space is reserved for five computers to be donated by the Recovery Center for community use. Plans for the old bank vault in the back of the community center area are to establish a resource center that would include historical materials connected to Maple Lake’s past and current information on local organizations and businesses. “We want people to be able to come in here and discover Maple Lake,” O’Loughlin said.   And the community center will be open to groups and people of all ages. “We want the kids to feel they can come in after school and use the computers for homework,” O’Loughlin said.

Volunteers have already gathered in the space to work on projects and the tables have seen use for senior citizens’ card games. Coming soon will be quilting demonstrations and other activities that will provide senior citizens with recreational activities in town, reducing the need to travel to neighboring communities for such events.

And Senior Citizens’ Club President Larry Blegen said the possibilities are endless.  “We will be open for suggestions and ideas from anyone in the community who would have something to offer,” he said.

The community is also invited to participate in a contest to name the new community center. Entries to win two tickets to Muller Family Theaters and other prizes can be dropped off at the open house on August 22 or at the Maple Lake Messenger office.

Plans call for regular center hours to begin in September from noon to 4 p.m. on weekdays. O’Loughlin said she hopes to arrange a reservation system so that groups and organizations can also make use of the facility for events or meetings.

There are still unmet needs and the community center wish list includes a vacuum cleaner, lamps, a coffee maker, card tables, folding chairs, a display case and magazine and book racks.

Blegen added that the contributions will be appreciated, as have the efforts and donations that have made it possible to open the community center on August 22. “We want to express our gratitude to everyone who has been willing to commit to this effort,” he said.

And Hofman sees more good things in store for the new community center.  “It’s a new beginning for the old bank building.”

Current community center donations include:  Mike Happ and the Maple Lake Recovery Center for the donation of space in the downtown building.

Financial donations from Ken Jude, Security State Bank, Larry Blegen, Helen Doherty, Roger Riesgraf, Ginger O’Loughlin/ Senior Connections and Wal-Mart.

Moving-in volunteers: Larry Blegen, Janet Hofman, Lillian Conzet, Rose Wurm, Denise Karger, Leona Hexum, Roger Riesgraf, Theresa Andrus, Jeff Sylvester, the O’Loughlin family.

And other donations of furnishings and equipment from Mike Happ and the Recovery Center, Larry Blegen, Minna Ullman, Janet Hofman, Dale and Tricia Bothun, Larry Blegen, Father Bob Jude, Curt and Janet Hofman, Theresa Andrus, the O’Loughlin family, Betty Pierce, and Fran Pribyl.  Funding for Maple Lake Senior Connections is provided by The Initiative Foundation, Independent School District #881, Wright-Hennepin Trust, Maple Lake Lions, Maple Lake VFW, Maple Lake  Legion, & other local businesses.