Discovery Center Building Project Begins

Under bright sunshine and witnessed by a large and enthusiastic crowd of supporters and contributors, the first shovels broke ground at the site of the new Discovery Center at Fourth Avenue and Kent Street in the heart of downtown Osceola, Wisconsin. The ceremony on June 27, took place on land that just three weeks earlier had been cleared to make way for the new multi-faceted building.

Key donors who stepped up early and contributed generously to the Inspire capital campaign were the first to hoist the gold shovels, followed by Village officials and community leaders. State Senator Sheila Harsdorf and a representative from Senator Tammy Baldwin’s office were also on hand to participate.

Fittingly, a future generation of community leaders – the Osceola High School Marching Band – got the celebration off to a rousing start as they marched down Chieftain Street to Fourth Avenue. Emcee Robert Bullard welcomed the crowd, and the program officially began as the band played The Star-Spangled Banner.

The theme of the celebration – Cherish the Past, Nourish the Present, Forge the Future – was chosen to reflect the concept for the Discovery Center itself, which is designed to showcase Osceola’s remarkable history at the same time that it serves present and future technology, community and business needs.

Retired teacher and long-time Osceola resident Robert Bullard, Village President Gary Beckmann, and Mark Kravik, business leader and Chair of the Inspire Capital Campaign took turns addressing each of the topics. Bullard recognized the people and support that created Osceola’s current public library, stating, “This event would not be taking place without their commitment to Osceola and the quality of life they valued and pursued for future generations.”

Beckmann spelled out the timeline for various aspects of the Discovery Center project. Fourth Avenue and Kent Street road work will begin July 5. The fire department plans to move into their new location at the Fullerton Lumber Building site the middle of August, after which the old Fire Hall will be demolished, thereby opening up the entire block for the new Discovery Center. The project is scheduled for completion by October 31, 2018. Beckmann voiced special thanks to Fire Chief Don Stark, Assistant Chief Paul Elfstrom and the 26 other firefighters, Library Director Kelly McBride and the library staff, Police Chief Ron Pedrys and the entire Village support staff for their patience and diligence while working in undersized and inadequate buildings these past years.

When looking toward the future Kravik said, “We are celebrating the start of construction of a Discovery Center that will be the soul of the Osceola area well into the future; it will touch and inspire our entire community … as well as surrounding communities.” He thanked the audience for their support for the project, and urged others to get on board. Fundraising continues at a strong pace, but “more is needed as we start the construction phase of this important project.”

It was four years ago that the Village of Osceola and Mill Pond Learning Foundation came together with a vision for a multi-purpose facility that would be a unique gathering place where people have access to information, technology, shared common spaces, and tools and equipment for 21st century needs. The Village Hall, complete with its police department and municipal court, a new and larger public library, and a business hub and video conferencing center would all be combined in the new Discovery Center. An innovative Fab Lab was rolled into the plan, to function as a hands-on training facility for the technical skills sorely needed in today’s business environment.

The Groundbreaking Ceremony was a culmination of that vision. Community residents spanning all generations gathered together and took part in the celebration, applauding and cheering as the Discovery Center sign was unveiled. Stray helium balloons slipping out of the hands of the youngest generation in attendance and floating overhead seemed to symbolize the day: it was uplifting in every way.

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