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COMMUNITY CENTER PROJECT

Herman Community Center where community comes together

In the heart of downtown Herman, the old Wells-Olson building site is being turned into a modern community center, a place where residents can come together for any occasion, whether it’s to raise a hand at a town hall meeting, raise funds at a benefit for a local family, or raise the roof at a community dance!     

 

Not just a big room.

 

We have a vision for our new building, one that’s full of community pride and community spirit. We see it used as:

  • An event center, large enough to accommodate wedding receptions, family reunions, trade shows and more

  • A government center housing the clerk’s office and city council chamber, and serving as the town hall meeting room

  • The American Legion post

  • The senior center

  • A community library

 

We invite you to share our vision and help make it a reality. https://givemn.org/organization/Herman-Foundation-Of-Minnesota

Faith, progress, and promise - key elements for moving into the future

 

by Nick Ripperger

Something remarkable happened in Herman last month.  Two old buildings came down, and a community came together.

One building, the Bartell building, was a former hotel, later an apartment building, and finally home to beauty salon.

The other was the Wells-Olson building, which has been a landmark in the community for over a century, serving as a hardware store, a dry goods store, a clothing store, a mortuary, a grocery store, an auto parts store, and finally an art gallery.

Both had served the community well in their time, but their time had come and gone, and it was time for them to go.

When it was built, the Wells-Olson Block was the expression of the faith that James Wells and Jacob Olson had in the town and people of Herman.  They saw great promise in the village that was barely 30 years old.

It took weeks, perhaps months, from beginning to end, but when it was finished, all who were a part of it took pride in what they had accomplished.  They built it to last for decades, and it did, until last month.

Last month it was all destroyed hauled away in only three or four days.  It is always easier to tear something down than build it up.

It is a twist of fate that both building the structure, and then taking it down, represent faith, progress, and promise.  At the time, Wells and Olson were investing in the people of Herman.  This time people of Herman are investing in themselves.

What was remarkable in Herman last month was the people - the friends and neighbors who came together to work on the same project, a common goal.  In some ways it was like the harvests of decades ago, when a threshing machine would work its way from farm to farm, with the families on the route coming together and helping each other so that all would have a successful harvest.

And the enthusiasm and pride with which they did it was infectious then, as it is now.

To be sure, the professionals, Jim Riley and Sons, did most of the brute force work of taking down the Wells-Olson building.  And working alongside were more than 40 volunteers, from those in their 20s to those in their 70s, who did everything from strategically placing hay bales around the building to soften the blow of any falling debris, to redirecting traffic, to truck drivers who lined up to take the debris away, to truck drivers who hauled back dirt to fill the hole, to the Bobcat operators who packed and smoothed the fill.

Everyone worked as a team, leading Jim Riley to tell one of the volunteers that he had never worked on a project like this before, where everyone did what they were asked and told to do without a single complaint.  Many even knew what to do without being told.

“What a week!” is how one volunteer put it.

Without their their contributions, especially from the Wagner Company, the job would have taken days longer and cost tens of thousands of dollars more.  But taking down the building was not an end in itself.

It’s odd that a bare lot represents the future, but it does, because folks know it’s in transition and it won’t be bare for long.  The old came down to make way for the new.  The people of the Herman Community are investing in a new building, a community center.

Every community needs a canter, a gathering place, where all feel welcome and all feel ownership and responsibility for it.  By this time next year, if not before, it should be a reality.

This will be our building, out community center.  It will be used as the home of the city government, the home of the American Legion, a senior center, a library, and for purposes not yet thought of.

There will be wedding dances there, family reunions, funeral gatherings, town meetings, and business meetings.  It will be open to all.

But there is still work to do.  The best estimates for the new building are coming in at around $950,000.  Amazingly, the community has contributed and pledged upwards of $600,000 so far.  And this is amazing.  Just tell that to anyone who lives outside the community and see what response you get.

To be sure, there will be some grant money coming in, and the Herman Development Corporation has taken out a construction loan to pay for costs until the pledges come due.  Fund raising continues, with the goal to raise about $150,000 more.  At one point, raising that amount of money - never mind $600,000 - would have been greeted with outright skepticism, yet we, the community, have done it.

Thank you to all who have contributed.  If you feel you can dig a little deeper, please do so.  And if you haven’t contributed yet, please consider it.

Coming together to accomplish a task makes us all realize how interdependent we are on each other, and how seldom big things get done without a group effort.

Four years ago, when it looked as though Herman would lose Dr. Galagher’s clinic permanently, I wrote an editorial observing that Herman used to be a community of “movers and shakers,” people with big ideas who got big things done, but over the years an indifference and malaise had settled in.

That is no longer the case.  That time has come and gone.  There is a new spirit in the air that is almost palpable.  You can feel it.  

We’re not resigned to something else going away, but engaged instead on creating something ourselves.  There is a renewed pride in our community.  Something remarkable has happened.

 

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