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It's a dream come true: Phillips Co. raised the roof PDF Print E-mail
Written by Darci Tomky   
“This is your home, your extended home...Welcome home!”

Phillips County commissioner Susan Roll Walters as well as commissioners Jerry Beavers and Bud Biesemeier welcomed county residents, donors and supporters to their new “home” at the Phillips County Event Center.

A celebration featured the “dream come true” facility Sunday, Nov. 21 with a program, reception and open house.

The Event Center project, eight years in the making, has certainly been a community endeavor, and all those involved were honored at Sunday’s program.

A ribbon cutting ceremony and the unveiling of the Event Center Donor Wall completed the celebration event.

The donor wall located just inside the south doors at Phillips County Event Center was
unveiled for all to see toward the end of the open house/thank you celebration Sunday,
Nov. 21. Elton Oltjenbruns and Samantha Biesemeier had the honor of cutting the
golden ribbon in front of the covered donor wall.  —Enterprise photo

Building plans all come together

Phillips County boasts people should “Come to See, Stay to Live” as the county celebrates community excellence. “We hope we’ve done this as we’ve completed this project,” said county administrator Randy Schafer.

Commissioners first came up with the idea of a new community center at the Phillips County Fairgrounds eight years ago.

The previous building, two barns placed side by side, was constructed in 1940. In addition to numerous community events held there over the years, Dragon’s Wagon Preschool had occupied the facility for 25 years. The building had served its purpose, but it was evident it was time to replace it.

Razing of the old building took place in May 2008. Groundbreaking followed in September with construction beginning in October.

After a study and needs assessment for the new structure, plans began to fall into place. Those involved included Natalie Lynch and Mike Tupa of CSU/DOLA. Serving as architect was Stephen Granger of CG Architects while Mike Smith Construction was hired as the contractor.

Sub-contractors included Acoustics, Bamford, Inc., Cool Floors, Inc., Edwards Concrete, Hielscher Drafting & Design, L&L Ready Mix (Holyoke), PC Telcom, R&P Flooring Service, Stonehome Designs, Inc., Tom’s Plumbing.

AJ Sheet Metal, C&S Construction, Davis Design, Fetzer Electric, LLP, Holyoke General Store, McAtee Construction Company, Perfection Door, Scholl Oil & Transportation, Wally’s Sales & Service, Inc., Yost Construction Company.

Artworks, Consolidated Builders, Eagle Construction, Gary Carper Backhoe, Ken’s Construction, LLC, Mitchell Drywall, Inc., ProPump Concrete Pumping, Spindler Lumber, Inc. and Woody’s Pivot Service.

The 32,000 square foot facility now includes three meeting rooms, an education wing, additional offices, a commercial kitchen, a hollow-core mezzanine deck with storm shelter and landscaping.

Marcia Walter of Dragon’s Wagon Preschool, Trisha Herman of Family Education Services, Linda Langelo of Phillips County CSU Extension and Annette Shaw of Phillips County Arts Council all noted their appreciation for their facilities in the new building.

“We’re home now,” said Walter, giving thanks to the commissioners for believing in them and giving them a home.

“It’s so much more than I thought we could do in the beginning,” said Roll Walters. “We built this for the education of our children and grandchildren.”

Phillips County Event Center has already been used for a variety of activities and events.

Beavers recalled the recent benefit for Blye McCallum held at the Event Center. With 700 people seated in Heginbotham Hall, “This place was really hoppin’!” he said. “It was a dream come true, and I was so excited it happened in this building. We’re a community that pulls together and works together.”

Community, donors make the dream come true

“We needed local support for this to become the building that it is,” said Biesemeier. The communities of Phillips County definitely provided that support to raise the funds needed to complete this “project of a lifetime.”

Mendi Lutze along with Tammie Timm headed up the fundraising committee while Randy Schafer led the grants committee. A number of in-kind donations also contributed to the project.

A total of $1.85 million came from grantors, donations provided over $625,000 of funding, fundraising brought in over $50,000 while the county provided the 23 percent left in the Event Center budget.

Donors were recognized Sunday in a new display in the Event Center entryway. Elton Oltjenbruns and Samantha Biesemeier, representing the past, present and future of Phillips County, were selected to cut the ribbon to unveil the donor recognition wall.

A design by Sheryl Farnsworth and Nancy Dee featured wooden plaques with donor names made by Troy Mayfield, ag teacher at Holyoke High School. An elaborate metal sculpture of Phillips County crops was made by Haxtun High School ag teacher Jeff Plumb.

Schafer noted the first two grants came from the State of Colorado Energy Impact Fund and the Gates Family Foundation. This was certainly a boost in the right direction for building organizers. “The project could be done—people believed in it,” said Schafer.

Other grants came from Will E. Heginbotham Trust, Colorado Dept. of Transportation Enhancement Program, Jack Petteys Memorial Foundation, Great Outdoors Colorado, Boettcher Foundation, Daniels Fund, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Temple-Hoyne Buell.

El Pomar Foundation, Adolph Coors Foundation, USDA—Rural Development, Anschutz Family Foundation, Thomas D. Buckley Trust, Colorado Garden Show, Inc. and Pioneer—A DuPont Business.

The large Event Center meeting room was named Heginbotham Hall because of contributions from the Heginbotham Trust. Representative Dave Colver noted it is great to have this building for future generations. “It’s by working together that we can do things like this.”

The Biesemeier meeting room is in honor of the mothers of cousins Bud and Gary Biesemeier who grew up in Phillips County. “We were both very fortunate to have mothers who gave so much to their families in difficult times,” said Bud Biesemeier. The two cousins have much respect for their mothers, the sacrifices they made and their focus on improving lives of people in the community.

With five generations in Phillips County, the Ortner family was acknowledged with the naming of the small meeting room. Dorothy (Ortner) Horrell, president of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, explained the group agreed to donate to the Event Center project with the condition her family be recognized.

From teaching to demonstrating to celebrating, there is a spirit of people coming together at the Event Center, said Horrell. “It’s a place where community happens.”

The building itself holds the name Phillips County Event Center. “This building was put together by the citizens of Phillips County, and I think it deserves that name,” said Schafer.

This community center has come a long way in the past eight years, from groundbreaking to the completion of a beautiful building where memories will be made, values will be deepened and lessons will be learned for many years to come.

Members of the Holyoke/Haxtun High combined choir perform during the open
house/thank you celebration at Phillips County Event Center Sunday, Nov. 21.
Holyoke music teacher Marcia Dalton and Haxtun music teacher Jeri Anderson
directed the choir.  —Enterprise photo