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Mabel working on new community center

Fri, Jan 27th, 2012
Posted in All Progress Edition

Mabel Community Center will be up and runnin in the spring. Photo by Sherry Hines

Jim Westby was the Mayor of Mabel for several years. Over the last few years, there has been a lot of controversy in town over the construction of a brand new Community Center. After Westby lost the last election, the council and the Mabel Economic Development Authority asked him to continue on as project manager for the Community Center project.

The issue of spending $1.2 million on a new building has at times divided the town. "Some people feel it's going to be a big tax burden on the residents," said Westby.

The city worked for a long time to raise money to offset the amount they would have to bond for the project. As it turned out, they only had to borrow $400,000. And people are still donating money. Westby recently received a check for $5,000 from someone in California.

Proponents of the project feel that the building will benefit the town tremendously. Not only is it a place for people to have gatherings like wedding receptions, reunions, and meetings, but it will house the council chambers and the city offices as well.

Westby's job as the Project Manager is to make sure all of the requirements are being met and things are moving along as planned. Construction is currently well under way.

"The last day of construction is supposed to be January 26," said Westby. He added that they will be finishing the landscaping and other outdoor things in the spring.

There are already four wedding receptions booked for the new building, one or two possible class reunions, and Winn Coop's annual board meeting. According to Westby, the Lions may hold their Cancer Telethon there next year.

The building was designed by Vantage Architects out of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, but Westby explained a lot of ideas came from the group on the original committee. They looked around at community centers in other towns to see what they liked and didn't like.

The reception hall can hold 300 people comfortably. Another five tables of ten people can be added. The council meeting room can also hold 50 people. There is a projection screen on one side of the hall for movies, videos, or presentations. A large window brings in a lot of natural sunlight. A stage will be set up, and there are plenty of speakers in the room.

Westby said there will be stipulations for people having their events there. They must have a licensed caterer, and they must purchase alcohol from a local licensed vendor.

"We are really hoping this generates support for local businesses," said Westby.

Westby added that he personally doesn't feel the building will be a large tax burden on the residents of Mabel. It is a tax exempt building since it houses the city offices. It has the potential to generate a lot of revenue throughout the year, as well as stimulate local businesses.

The city is not only able to offer the building for receptions and parties. "A lot of people don't know this," said Westby, "but we are also set up for auctions here."

Double doors in the main room open up to allow for a trailer to bring items in for auctions. This increases the money-making potential for the city.

For most people, this addition to the community will bring nothing but good things. Westby believes this will help bring more people to the community, help stimulate local businesses, and help Mabel be a place that people want to visit.

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