LUSK – As Pastor Ty DesEnfents began speaking, the excited group fell silent, listening to every word as he began explaining the history behind the project he was about to reveal.
DesEnfents is the pastor at Prairie Hills Community Church. The church has been meeting in Lusk at the high school auditorium and Niobrara County fairgrounds for the last five years.
On Sunday, Oct. 4, Prairie Hills held an informational meeting for the public to begin the discussion of a project that has been in the works for over two years: the construction of a community center and facility for the church to meet at. As DesEnfents reviewed the decision making process that the leadership board of the church and many others had gone through he also fielded questions from those gathered.
Questions regarding cost, form, function and timelines. Prairie Hills has managed to raise $240,000 towards the construction of the community center. They own a piece of property at the end of 8th Street that was sectioned off from a larger parcel and includes three acres of land. The anticipated total construction cost at this time is $550,000. This estimate includes the cost of a general contractor but DesEnfents was upfront with his hope that church members and community members will be willing to come together and provide assistance not only in the form of financial pledges but in labor, time, knowledge and other resources as well.
The plans presented by DesEnfents are not yet completely finalized but have evolved through extensive discussion about the form and function that will most adequately meet the needs of the community and still be a realistic financial budget for the project. Included in the plans are a half-size gymnasium, stage, two classrooms, a nursery area and plenty of storage for tables, chairs and a sound booth. The building is the combined vision of many people and it is the hope that the community center can meet the need for exercise classes, youth events, classes, civic groups and more. With three acres, there is room for expansion of both indoor and outdoor facilities as funds and time allow with the intention of a playground area and outdoor patio if funding is found.
As this project has moved forward, every step has been vetted by the leadership board including individuals with experience in building projects, carpentry, fundraising and more. The board overseeing this process is excited to bring the community into it and see where the project can go from this point forward. A minimum of another $310,000 is needed to finish the building itself. The church has taken the necessary steps to obtain pre-approval for a construction loan and subsequent mortgage but would prefer to outright fund the project as much as possible.
Many attending the meeting feel this community center will fill the need that has been expressed time and again within the community for additional multi-purpose space. While the fair grounds and country club function extremely well there is additional demand for meeting room and gymnasium space to accommodate different groups including intramural sports, youth groups and activities and various civic and community service organizations that do not have their own building as well as weddings and funerals. The current floor plan would allow for one full-sized volleyball court and the main multi-purpose area would accommodate up to 500 chairs.
For more specific information and for any questions about the floor plans community members can visit www.prairiehillschurch.com/plans. Those interested in learning more about the project are encouraged to attend a second information meeting that will be held on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. at the fairgrounds.