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Upgrade begins on Community Center wood shop; volunteers sought

Loren Luschen, left, and John Lambing, both members of the Willmar Community Center’s wood shop committee, work on cleaning the shop in preparation for installation of power tools and other shop improvements. Tribune photo by David Little

WILLMAR — New power tools will replace old equipment when volunteers complete upgrading the wood shop at the Willmar Community Center.

Ever since the city purchased the former Elks Club building on Business 71 North in December 1991 and reopened it in January 1992 as the community center, much of the original wood shop equipment was donated.

But the tools are old, says wood shop committee member and volunteer Loren Luschen, “and we’re seeing some decline in the use of it, so we want to rejuvenate it and get better and safer tools in there.’’

The cost will be covered by a $2,000 donation from members of the Willmar Area Senior Citizens Club and with funds from the center’s 2013 budget.

Luschen hopes some funds will remain to buy certain hand tools.

Along with new power tools such as a table saw, band saw and planer/jointer, the wood shop will have experienced volunteers present to make sure tools are used properly and safely, provide woodworking assistance, and make sure users clean up after themselves.

LeAnne Freeman, Community Center coordinator, says the shop will be open when volunteers are present. Starting in January, the shop will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, and from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

“As we get more volunteers, we’ll be open more,’’ said Freeman.

Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to call Freeman at 320-231-9797.

Freeman said she’s also looking for an individual who would be willing to teach an introductory class in use of power tools and woodworking programs.

For the first time, wood shop users will pay a membership fee of $60 per year or $25 for three consecutive months. Freeman said revenue from the fee will be used to pay for equipment, maintenance and supplies.

Luschen says the wood shop will be much better when the project is completed. The goal is to reopen the shop in January.

“The focus here is for people 50-55 and over, and like myself in the summertime I probably do a lot of stuff at home of what I do in woodworking. But in the wintertime it’s too cold in the garage,’’ says Luschen.

“And there’s going to be some tools here that I really wouldn’t be worthwhile spending money on. But if I wanted to get into making something a little better … you could come and do some of that stuff,’’ he said.

John Lambing, a wood shop committee member, said it’s going to be a big project. Other volunteers are also helping upgrade the shop.

“We’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do,’’ he said. “I used the equipment last winter and said this is a nice place to lend a hand. It should be wonderful when completed. There are a lot of people that would have projects if they had access to tools and a little bit of help.’’

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150