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Hard work celebrated at SRC Grand Opening

If there was a theme that was constant on Saturday, April 4 during the grand opening ceremonies at the Stettler Recreation Centre.
Stettler Mayor Dick Richards (with scissors) prepares to cut the ribbon in front of the Hub

If there was a theme that was constant on Saturday, April 4 during the grand opening ceremonies at the Stettler Recreation Centre (SRC), it was that everyone involved contributed hard work, extra hours, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

It was a beautiful spring day, full of sunshine and warm breezes, as people gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the SRC, the Hub and the Library.

The long winter, a snowy one and one of the worst in recent history, was not just an obstacle for construction crews, but for those who wanted to access the two ice pads, the gym or the pool, the crowd was told.

“(People are) glad to be walking through these new front doors instead of all the way around,” Lee Penner, Stettler’s director of parks and services, told the crowd. “I’m sure many of you are watching the many people coming in, their eyes are glowing, and they’re happy.”

The double-sliding glass doors are hands-free, motion detecting doors that are disability friendly, a change from the heavier push-doors of the past.

“(We want to thank) all of our patrons, because we changed the pathways to your favourite activities over this past winter,” Penner said. “As you use these new front doors, I think you’ll really enjoy coming into this building.”

The town’s mayor, Dick Richards, took a moment to thank the hard work by the employees, the architects, and the arena, pool, and library staff for working through the construction period.

“We can safely move forward knowing that not only this generation but other generations will enjoy not only the SRC but everything the community of Stettler has to offer,” Richards said.

Last to speak before the ribbon cutting was chief architect John Hull, who praised his team of labourers and architects, as well as the engineers who made everything work. Lastly, he praised one determined resident Martin Wilms who refused to let a disability – or construction – stop him from using the facilities at the SRC.

“He has plowed his wheelchair through the snow, and through the wrong door, or this door or that door or whatever door he could get into, so he could use this facility,” Hull said, as the new glass doors slid open and Wilms in a wheelchair wheeled his way over the long red ribbon.

Mayor Richards, joined by the architect and Penner and Wilms, cut the red ribbon together, officially opening the new entryway of the SRC.

Following the applause, people made their way upstairs using the new, wide staircase or the elevator off to the side, for the Hub grand opening.

While many people think of the Hub as the Seniors’ Centre, it was quickly made clear by Stettler town councillor Malcolm Fischer that the centre is not just for the elderly, but for everyone.

That is why it is called the Hub.

The centre includes a small kitchen, a long gallery with windows on either side, overlooking the red and blue arenas, and a hardwood floor perfect for floor curling or dancing.

“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be here,” Fischer said. At times, he said, people thought the project would never get off the ground or simply work.

He quoted friend Doug Griffiths, “Those who are saying it can’t be done, should just get out of the way of those who are doing it.”

“We made every effort to involve everyone who was interested, to tell us what we should do, what we should have,” he said. “It’s been a we project, not a me project.”

Fischer called up Terry Crisp, Fred Milner, Don Vallett, Fern Borgel, Elaine Williams and Marlene Tiegs, six individuals who  worked hard to make the Hub happen. Together, they and Mayor Richards cut the ribbon, opening the Hub for use.

On cue, inside the Jazz Guys, a local jazz ensemble, began to play. Sandwiches and vegetables were served alongside coffee and tea as everyone had a chance to enjoy the new centre and socialize, gathered around round tables or standing in small groups chitchatting.

Finally, at 1 p.m., everyone gathered in the new library to celebrate its grand opening. Like the doors to the Hub and the main lobby, the new doors are hands-free sliding doors, making it easy for everyone to access the library. A seating area with comfortable couches and a fireplace – yet to be installed – greets people who enter the library. A long bank of computers for using the Internet line one wall, and the entire back of the library is devoted to books, audio books and DVDs.

Library Board Chair Jane Skocdopole welcomed everyone to the new library, and took time to praise the library’s board and staff for working through the long period of construction, the long move to the new site and more. She said it had been a long road for everyone and that this time was a time to celebrate.

Crowfoot MP Kevin Sorenson was the first person invited to speak.

“It’s always a pleasure to be at events like this, where were celebrate not just the opening of a new centre, but really something that benefits the entire community,” Sorenson said. “And I don’t just mean Stettler, but the surrounding communities, too.”

He spoke about the hard effort put in by everyone, continuing the theme of the day, but also praised the people who put together the application for the grant money that helped build the new SRC.

“The care put into the application showed,” he said, noting that the determining factor in whether or not grants are given is often the care put into the application itself.

After the ribbon was cut, the library offered free registrations for the week, along with several platters of desserts and fruits.