Braham Area Community Center moves closer to opening

The Braham Area Community Center Task Force is hoping to have its “Building Our Dream” project come to fruition with a mid-December opening.

During a meeting of the task force Sept. 27, members voiced excitement for a possible December opening and for the recent award given to them by the Initiative Foundation.

Approximately 80 people attended a walk-through of the Braham Area Community Center during a Sept. 17 open house (inset). Progress is continuing to be made on the Braham Area Community Center with a hope to be open by mid-December. The Center is located on the west side of Eighth Street SW, just north of the Braham Elementary School.

Progress is continuing to be made on the Braham Area Community Center with a hope to be open by mid-December. The Center is located on the west side of Eighth Street SW, just north of the Braham Elementary School. Photos by Rachel Kytonen

The Initiative Foundation selected Braham to receive its Outstanding Community Award, sponsored by East Central Energy, during a banquet Oct. 11 at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud. A large part of this award was given to Braham due to the work of the task force building a new community center in the community.

The task force broke ground on the 14,000-square-foot community center May 8. The meeting center and banquet hall will hold 300 people. The center will be a host for reunions and school activities; disaster center and health services; the library; the food shelf; proms, weddings and banquets; computer and Internet access; senior and youth events and bingo; corporate events, parties and trade shows; meetings of clubs, Scouts, 4-H and the VFW; concerts and theater events; arts and craft fairs; Pie Day events; birthdays and family events; and preschool, classes and seminars.

Area community members and residents got a sneak-peek at the community center during a Sept. 17 open house attended by more than 80 people.

Task force member Marie Grundberg said they are hopeful the center will be open in time for Braham Santa Day Dec. 14, but they do have another location reserved in case the center isn’t ready.

“The Community Center will really be a benefit to all our area counties,” Grundberg said. “Our hope is this center will bring growth to the entire area.”

The dream of a Braham Area Community Center begin in August 1980 and became a full-time project in February 2007 when the feasibility study was completed. In February 2009, Tusen Tack, a thrift store in Braham, donated $100,000 to the project and in February 2010, the city of Braham donated the land.

In April 2010, the Minnesota Small Cities Development Program grant awarded $600,000. In June 2010, the Alice Studt challenge raised $100,000, and in March 2013, the committee also received a $100,000 anonymous donation.

Approximately 80 people attended a walk-through of the Braham Area Community Center during a Sept. 17 open house.

Approximately 80 people attended a walk-through of the Braham Area Community Center during a Sept. 17 open house.

“This is close to a $2 million project, with about 50 percent of it funded through financial donations and grants,” said task force member Terry Lind.

Janna King, economic and community development consultant with Economic Development Services, praised the work of the task force and the Braham community.

“The Community Center will be a place with a focus more on seniors in the morning and youth in the afternoon,” King said. “It will be a place for youth to go after school and during the summer to be constructively engaged and have access to computers and the Internet and a reading room. The vision is to make money on weekend evenings with family reunions, weddings, etc.”

Steve Shurts, CEO of East Central Energy, said his company is proud to partner with the task force and Tusen Tack to make the community center a reality.

“East Central Energy is proud to be a supporter of the Community Center, and we are excited to see this town grow,” Shurts said. “Even though East Central Energy serves a wide region and supports our other communities, Braham is our neighborhood and we need Braham to be successful.”

Shurts spoke highly of the Braham community.

“Even though I don’t live here, I love the town and do business here,” Shurts said. “Braham is such a neat little spot. Our facility studies show us that Braham is a great place to live and to raise kids. This is a good place, and there are good people here. We like to be active in the community and are proud to be a sponsor of the Braham Community Center.”

King said the task force, as well as Tusen Tack, have a lot to be proud of.

“Tusen Tack, with its 20-year-something history, started the discussions of the Community Center,” King said. “This nonprofit thrift store is a great model for other rural communities. It’s a great place for recycling, the prices are reasonable, and it helps the people in town have a better quality of life.”

King continued praising Tusen Tack for its social environment and volunteers and the community for its perseverance.

“This really shows that if you have a dream, you can make it happen,” King said. “Even though you had to keep overcoming challenges, it’s really a tribute to the folks who meet here for these Community Center Task Force meetings.”

Braham City Administrator Sally Hoy said the volunteerism at Tusen Tack is unique.

“Tusen Tack and the Braham Area Community Center Task Force is the poster child of volunteerism,” Hoy said.

Grundberg noted the task force works well together.

“Every one of us on this task force has a different expertise that is so beneficial to the group,” Grundberg said. “Even though we may not agree all the time, we always work through it. Members on the Task Force come from all over the four-county area.”

Grundberg said the task force is excited for the opening.

“For myself, this has been about the excitement of this group working together,” Grundberg said. “I think, ‘My gosh, did we accomplish this? How did we do that?’”

If interested in making a financial donation to the Braham Area Community Center, visit www.brahamcenter.org or call 320-396-3177. The Braham Area Community Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt entity. For those wishing to give in honor or memory, room and gift naming opportunities are available.

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