Telecommunications center open for business
MAC-driven remodel will accommodate business and family functions
Once host to large banquets and countless high school thespians waiting to go on stage, the “city building basement” is no more.
A $13,000 makeover of the lower level of the building, now known as Marion Community Center, has created a bright, modern, three-room venue equipped with dual wall-mounted 50-inch television sets and high-speed Internet access.
Marion Advancement Campaign, which manages the community center for the city, paid for the renovations from existing funds. Volunteers Gene Winkler and Eugene Christensen did most of the work.
“The facility has served the city of Marion for a long time, but it’s really in need of an upgrade,” MAC chairman Mike Powers said. “The conference center is just another step in that evolution. I think it’s really indicative of the fact that Marion is not, like a lot of towns, throwing in the towel. We’re just planning for the next century.”
Roger Holter said the venue can be used for events such as receptions and family gatherings, but it was designed primarily to accommodate local and area business meetings.
“I know of one sales meeting that’s already booked here,” he said. “Geographically, we can serve as the center of a regional market.”
Holter said MAC board members would be marketing the facility to potential customers in Newton, McPherson, Salina, Wichita, and elsewhere.
An anteroom has space for several tables and a serving area adjacent to the kitchen.
A large meeting room can be configured to accommodate various needs and group sizes, Holter said.
“It is equipped with a Wi-Fi hotspot that has the greatest speed we can get, 50 megabits download and 5 megabits upload,” he said. “It handles videoconferencing and all of that. Both of these televisions are smart 50-inch TVs that can work independently and in conjunction.”
Economic development director Randy Collett recently used the center to join a webinar.
“Randy was the first one to use it for a webinar with full participation,” Holter said. “He was able to link in with 14 others in the webinar.”
A small office off the meeting room provides a place for taking calls during a meeting or preparing presentations, Holter said. It also could be used for a predetermined amount of time as a “transitional office” for professionals who need short-term workspace.
The telecommunications center was revealed at a $50-a-plate MAC fundraising dinner May 13. Familiar former Marionites helped demonstrate its capabilities.
Rosse and Janice Case now live in Overland Park, but they appeared on a video link with other family members celebrating Rosse’s 90th birthday. Alex Case announced a $1,250 donation from the Case family to MAC.
Other businesses announcing donations to MAC were Central National Bank and Tampa State Bank, $1,000 each, and Carlsons’ Grocery, which donated the meal and $250.
But the star of the evening was the center itself.
“People were really impressed,” Powers said. “I heard lots of, ‘Oh, my goshes’ when people walked in.”
Winkler was pleased with the response.
“I’ll bring anyone down here any time to come see it,” he said. “Just to see how it used to look, cruddy and brown, and then you come into this, it’s like walking into a new building.”
Future renovations could include a commercial-grade production kitchen and remodeling the second-story balcony above the main floor community center, but Collett put those plans in context in remarks made at the dinner.
“The Marion Advancement Campaign isn’t about the next project,” he said. “It’s about building our community to make it a better place to live, and making it a more attractive place to live for those who don’t already live here.”
More information about scheduling and pricing is available from Margo Yates at (620) 382-3425.