Burns plans celebration for community center opening

The people of Burns will be dancing in the streets come April 2 when they celebrate the opening of their new community center.

The center-a labor of love for the community-is almost a reality, and only the finishing touches are left to complete.

Materials and supplies for the project were funded through the KANSTEP program, but the building has been built almost solely with volunteer labor.

About $95,000 in volunteer labor has been donated by people in the Burns area, said Carolyn Koehn, Burns City Clerk and grant administrator.

“More people showed up than they knew what to do with,” she said. “This has been a great social gathering place. It has been the place to be all winter!”

Koehn has been amazed at how the project has drawn the community together and how so many people have stepped up to the plate.

“Everything we need, someone comes out and says, ‘I will take care of that,'” she said.

The facility includes a large open space for community events, a large kitchen, quilt room, senior center/conference room, wellness center and play room that will double as a storm shelter.

The playroom is the last room to be finished, and it will have a blue tile “highway” around the edge and hopscotch and tic-tac-toe games on the floor made with three colors of tile.

Koehn said the kitchen and cabinets were designed to be the focal point as you enter the building. The cabinets were hand made by local craftsman Roger Koehn and his son.

The large kitchen was designed by the women of the Eden Mennonite Church, who have years of experience serving large groups. The kitchen’s extra-wide ovens were a special feature built into the design.

The grant did not cover the cost of tables, chairs and window coverings, so that money had to be raised.

“We built an extensive wish list,” Koehn said. “I set up a fund at the bank, and people have contributed $7,200.”

The tables and chairs have been ordered, and her next project is the window coverings.

The project, which began with ground-breaking in November, has moved along at a breakneck pace. The work was timed to be done in the months that area farmers are not as busy with their crops.

Koehn said community members are tired but proud of their achievement.

“We’ve really pushed it,” she said. “We’re exhausted. But it’s about time to plant corn and get into the fields.”

She invites everyone to attend the 1 p.m. ceremony and reception April 2.

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