By Aaron Schultz
DASSEL, COKATO, MN It’s been a long road, so far, and there continues to be plenty to do, but the Dassel-Cokato Regional Ice and Sports Center (DCRISC) is making great progress, with the outer shell completed and interior construction ongoing.
“Even if it looks like things are quiet at the arena site, there has been lots of construction activity on the inside, and the board is always busy planning and scheduling,” Susie Keskey said.
Keskey, along with Keith Raisanen, Clark Moe, Gregg Halonen, Steve Benda, Mark Forsman, Kelly Keaveny, Kevin Bjork, and Joel Hillmann are members of the DCRISC board.
Raisanen is the board chair, and Bjork is the school board representative.
The DCRISC is located on the north side of the Dassel-Cokato High School, and has really taken shape over the past year.
Fundraising for Phase One of the project was successful in raising $1 million, which allowed for the construction of the arena shell, which was completed year-end 2011, and is an impressive structure.
During 2012, the DCRISC board has been working on Phase Two, which is construction on the inside of the arena, including plumbing, electrical, ventilation system, well, and fire-suppression system.
Upon completion of Phase Two, the facility will be ready for skating on natural ice.
At that time, the school can also start using the building for field-house type activities and for physical education activities.
The Phase Two fundraising goal is $335,000. Raisanen reports they are roughly two-thirds of the way to their goal, with over $100,000 being donated in the last six months.
The goal for the coming year is to raise an additional $150,000 to complete Phase Two.
At this time, the project continues to move forward at a steady pace.
The basic underground plumbing has been completed, some of the electrical work is being installed, and the well will be put in this month.
Interior concrete work is next on the construction schedule.
In addition to receiving monetary donations, the DCRISC has also received several donations of materials and in-kind labor from local individuals and businesses.
“The efforts of these volunteers have allowed us to keep the project moving,” Keskey said. “We greatly appreciate their willingness to help.”
For things to continue to move forward, the upcoming challenge for the DCRISC board is to continue to raise funds until the building is completed.
Keskey said, “This major community project will be done entirely by donations and support of the community without tax dollars. Every donation received gets us that much closer to getting our kids skating and our school using the facility.”
Phase Three will begin immediately after Phase Two is complete, and as additional funds come in.
Phase Three funds will be used for finishing the locker rooms, final lighting, HVAC systems, and the ice refrigeration system.
At various times during its fundraising efforts, the DCRISC board has received donation commitments that are “matching funds” where the donor will match dollar-for-dollar funds donated by others during a specified period of time.
Currently, there is a $6,500 matching funds donation for which the DCRISC is soliciting donations. Every dollar up to $6500 will be matched by an anonymous donor.
Donations toward this effort can be sent to DCRISC, Box 958, Cokato, MN 55321, or can be deposited at Kensington Bank Cokato.
The DC arena is getting closer to becoming a reality; it will be a significant community asset, not just for the Dassel-Cokato hockey community, but also for DC schools and the entire community, according to the DCRISC board.
The arena will not just be used for hockey, but also for various school and community functions.
The hope and goal is to have the DCRISC ready for school and community use by 2014.
2012 fundraising efforts
In addition to receiving $30,000 in grants from two different foundations in 2012, a series of fundraising events took place in 2012 for the DCRISC. More than $40,000 was raised at the following list of fundraisers.
A golf tournament took place in mid-June at the Cokato Town & Country Club, with 22 teams participating.
A Polaris four-wheeler was the grand prize in a summer/autumn raffle; 300 tickets were sold at $50 each. The winner of the four-wheeler was Peter Halonen of Cokato. Todd Tolkkinen of Cokato won a $300 Cabella’s gift card, and Tracy McCoy of Clearwater won $200 cash.
A benefit auction took place Sept. 29 at the Lundeen Auction lot on Hwy. 12. Auctioneer Derek Lundeen donated his services.
Public Awareness Efforts
• In the Corn Carnival parade, and an informational booth for three days on the carnival grounds.
• In Red Rooster parade, and an informational booth on festival grounds during Labor Day.
• An open house took place at the arena to view the interior construction progress Oct. 6.
Several thousand stainless steel stovetop steamers, used to steam food on a grill, were donated to the DCRISC by an anonymous donor from Hutchinson. All the grills in retail packaging have been sold. The remainder of the product is being disassembled by volunteers and sold for scrap metal.
A mailing recently went out to local businesses and individuals. Grant money from assorted sources will continue to be sought.
Money Match Challenge
There is currently a $6,500 donation made to be used as a matching fund challenge. Efforts to raise these funds began in December. Progress will be posted on the DCRISC’s Facebook page.
2013 fundraising events planned
The DCRISC board is hard at work planning a number of fundraising events for 2013, including the following:
• Benefit Auction May 2013
• 4-Wheeler Raffle May to October 2013
• Golf Tournament “18 holes on the 18th” is scheduled for June 18. Hole sponsors cost $200. The cost is $100 per team (4).
• Pond Hockey Tournament in the new arena when the ice is ready.