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Community Center’s remodeled wood shop debuts Thursday

The updated wood shop features new power equipment that includes a band saw, table saw, miter, router and long-bed jointer. A new dust collection system, which volunteer John Lambing works on Tuesday, connects directly to the power tools to reduce dust. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR — The Willmar Community Center’s remodeled wood shop with new power tools and cleaner facilities will debut Thursday. Volunteers who worked on the two-month upgrade will provide public tours during an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday at the center, 624 Highway 71 N.E.

LeAnne Freeman, Community Center coordinator, said volunteers who man the wood shop will show people around and explain the project.

“We’re ready to open up at the wood shop,’’ says Freeman. “We’ve spent the last couple of months updating the equipment, cleaning, painting and freshening it up: getting it ready to go.’’

The shop was cleaned, walls were painted and electrical improvements were made.

The new power equipment includes band saw, table saw, miter, router and long-bed jointer. A new dust collection system connects directly to the power tools to reduce dust. Also, the shop replaced some smaller electric and hand tools.

Freeman said the shop received a donation of hard wood and other pieces of wood from an individual from Prinsburg. Shop users who need wood for a project will be able to buy pieces from the center. The center will also use the wood for its own projects and programs.

The center is located in the former Elks Club building, which the city purchased in December 1991 and reopened in January 1992. The center welcomes people of all ages to attend programs, classes and activities, and encourages intergenerational events.

Volunteers had seen a decline in the number of people using the wood shop and they wanted to rejuvenate the facility and replace donated power tools with better and safer equipment.

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

Freeman said people have been pleased with the improvements and have said they want to join the wood shop. Daily-use, three-month and annual memberships are available. Money raised from memberships will be used to repair and replace equipment.

Freeman said there are still some other pieces that the center would like to get but can’t afford at this time.

“We’re hoping that we get a lot more people coming back into the wood shop. When we first opened over 20 years ago, it was a really busy place. And within the last five years it has slowed down, and I think that’s when it started becoming more half-storage, half-wood shop,’’ said Freeman.

“The volunteers that I have are really adamant they really wanted to have the wood shop and they knew people and they’ve talked to people and it’s getting kind of exciting,’’ she said. “They are bringing newer seniors that have never been in the building before, so it gives us a chance to show off the building and show what we have here.’’

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