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Civic Center to celebrate 25th anniversary

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 15th, 2013

Mendota Civic Center executive director, Joanie Nichols, left, and assistant manager Ralph Guynn stand near a new water feature near the facility’s front entrance. (Reporter photo by Bonnie Morris)

MENDOTA – Mendota’s community gathering place for the past quarter century, the Mendota Civic Center, is marking its 25th anniversary this year. To celebrate, they will hold an open house on Wednesday, Oct. 23 from 5 to 7 p.m. Area residents are invited to stop by for refreshments and a guided tour the facility’s many recent upgrades and renovations. In addition, there will be door prizes, a guessing game, and adult and kiddie giveaways.

Mendota Area Senior Services (MASS), located within the Mendota Civic Center, also celebrated an anniversary this summer and will be a part of the civic center’s open house activities. MASS, which was founded 35 years ago, has been housed in the Feik Parlor of the civic center since the facility opened in 1988 and offers a wide variety of services and activities for senior citizens. The senior center was named for Mrs. Dora Feik who in 1982 willed $350,000 to the City of Mendota for construction of a community center with a special emphasis on senior citizens. Six years later, her wishes were fulfilled with the opening of the new facility adjacent to Lake Mendota Park.

With thousands of events taking place at the civic center during its lifetime, the building was beginning to show its age so plans for refurbishing were put in place. Joanie Nichols, executive director, said the biggest project was installation of a new steel roof, which was completed last fall. For Nichols, who joined the civic center staff in November of 2012, her first year on the job was a whirlwind of remodeling and upgrading throughout the facility. Projects included a complete remodel of the lounge area with new furniture and carpeting as well as a fresh coat of paint for the lobby. In the grand ballroom, the stage floor and the stage backdrop were both redone and all the chandeliers were replaced with energy efficient lighting. Additionally, all other light fixtures in the building were replaced and are now energy efficient.

Some new features have been added outdoors as well. A small, decorative pond near the front doors was replaced with an upright water feature that reduced maintenance and allowed for the planting of more natural grasses and flowers.

Also outdoors is the recent addition of a wedding pergola. Nichols said this offers couples the option of planning an outdoor wedding using the picturesque white structure. If it rains, the couple has an automatic “rain date” and can move the ceremony indoors. Nichols said she expects the pergola to be a popular choice for weddings and already has several bookings for its use.

Many special memories have been created at civic center events over the past 25 years. In addition to wedding receptions, banquets, proms, business meetings, educational forums, community theater productions and various fundraisers, specialty events such as a Mommy & Me Tea and Daddy-Daughter Dances have been very popular and are hoped to continue for years to come.

Nichols credited the civic center staff, which includes assistant manager Ralph Guynn, with making the success of the facility possible. “It is our 25th anniversary but we have a lot of experience that exceeds 25 years in banquet and event services between us,” Nichols noted. “When we add all that experience, you get a lot of professional assistance when you’re planning an event. We definitely work together as a well-oiled team and we have a lot of exceptional part time help also.”

Nichols said the civic center is excited to show the facility’s many improvements to the community on Oct. 23. “We’ve increased our offerings to the people of the area and we hope to continue making improvements,” she said.

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