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Youth center close to opening

Staff writer

After two years of planning and thousands of volunteer hours, the Marion Youth Activities Center is only a few minor pieces of work away from opening.

A snack bar complete with cabinets, pool table, air hockey table, computers, and two large televisions are already in the revitalized gas station. The walls, floors, and ceilings have been finished and painted. The Marion Advancement Campaign and Doug Kjellin will gather the last pieces of the center. Kjellin plans to purchase a couch and loveseat. Gene Winkler will contribute a pair of videogame consoles.

There is some duct work on the ceiling and a light needs to be installed in the bathroom.

“We’re so close,” Doug Kjellin said after reinvesting in the project the last couple of months. “I’m just going to get this done.”

Kjellin and his wife, Amy, had spearheaded the project and said they were close to opening in October last year. Then football seasoned passed and both husband and wife started more strenuous jobs — Doug as Marion city administrator and Amy as director of Butler Community College of the Flint Hills.

What has helped speed up the process was the availability of the high school construction class to work on projects inside the center while they were waiting for bureaucratic red tape around a new house project to clear.

“Lucas King has been great all along,” Kjellin said.

Kjellin reflected on the efforts of many of the volunteers. Marion Police Department helped put up the metal corrugated ceiling.

“It’s funny, on a farm you have a ton of that stuff lying around,” Kjellin said of the ceiling added for affect.

Winkler painted the floors of the center during a weekend.

“It’s some place for them to go,” Winkler said. “Mainly, for the younger kids.”

Electrician Harvey Sanders helped put in outlets and lights and change the breaker box.

Eagle Scouts Benjamin Wertz and Dylan Goebel did Eagle Scout projects with the center. Goebel did concrete work around the Sinclair gas station overhang.

Marion city crews have contributed to work inside of the center. Marion pharmacist Marlin Buchholz donated the pool table. A non-profit organization donated the computers.

At some point, Kjellin is hoping to decorate the center with hubcaps, license plates, and other automotive memorabilia as adornment. He also wants to repaint the overhang to say USD 408.

Kjellin and MAC have also talked with USD 408 superintendent Lee Leiker about establishing after school days at the center to give district students some time after school before parents get off work.

He and Pam Bowers are also looking for volunteers to fill the supervisory role the center needs.

Last modified Oct. 27, 2011

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