The Cherokee Community Center has a much improved appearance, a project that has taken over a year and is still ongoing to some extent, but the cost was minimal to the financially strapped city.
"We've received a lot of favorable comments," said Duane Mummert, parks superintendent for the city.
In addition to the improvements in appearance, function and handicap accessibility, the city has obtained a beer and wine permit for parties at the community center. City employees take care of bartending on off duty hours for a fee.
People can use both floors for such events as a wedding, with a reception upstairs and a dance downstairs. There is access to meeting rooms, both upstairs and down without going through an event.
There are now handicap accessible restrooms on both floors, a major project because all of the work on doors, plumbing and wiring had to be done to convert two former closets had to be converted to the restrooms. A portion of a downstairs meeting room was walled off to create a storage area.
A ramp in the building increases access for people in wheelchairs.
"The building is a lot more user friendly, especially for elderly people," Mummert said.
Among other work performed was installing restroom partitions, replacing light fixtures, redoing the stage floor, installing new ceilings, installing a new floor drain in the boiler room and lots of painting.
The interior walls have a much brighter appearance than before.
The only contracted work was to Lundell's Construction to saw cut a portion of floor where a ramp was installed.
The other work was done by Mummert, and parks employee Steve Thill, with assistance from inmates from Rockwell City. Mummert said the inmate program works out great for the city and the inmates obtain useful on-the-job training in building trades.
The parks staff members and their helpers had to work around their regular jobs maintaining the city parks. They also had to work around scheduled events at the community center.
Mummert said that there remains things to do, installing automatic doors whenever grant money becomes available, replacing outdoor carpeting on the deck and other projects, but then maintenance and improvement of a community center is a never ending project.