20 years later, Weed Community Center is open

Skye Kinkade
Attendees at an Open House Monday evening at the new Weed Community Center enjoyed a light supper and toured the new facility, which was nearly 20 years in the making.

Roseburg Forest Products’ plant manager Jeff Scholberg called Weed’s new Community Center the town’s “best kept secret.”

But word is now getting out about the Recreation and Park District’s new facility, which includes meeting rooms and a large community room, complete with a commercial kitchen. The Center is located adjacent to School Hill Wellness and Great Northern Corporation at 778 South Davis Avenue.

Monday evening, the WRPD held an open house for the facility, which was attended by several people who have worked for nearly 20 years to see a Community Center come to fruition.

“This is an absolute gem for Weed,” said Anne Kubisch, President and CEO of the Ford Family Foundation, which provided an $800,000 grant to the WRPD to purchase the building from Great Northern last year.

A $400,000 grant from the McConnell Foundation was used to install a commercial-grade kitchen and sound system and to purchase the tables and chairs to create a functional facility, said WRPD administrator, Mike Rodriguez.

Kubisch said she was delighted to be a part of the project, and that Roseburg’s founder, Kenneth Ford, always felt that his job was to be more than an employer, but also to contribute to strengthening the community as a whole.

Ford passed away in 1997, Kubisch said. “I think he would be thrilled if he were here today to see this come to fruition... somewhere he’s smiling, I’m sure.”

Shannon Phillips, Vice President of Operations at the McConnell Foundation, said the Weed Community Center is “exactly the kind of project” her organization likes to be a part of, since it “benefits many, rather than a few,” from young children to senior citizens.

“We are proud to partner with the Ford Family Foundation and the Weed Recreation and Parks District,” Phillips said.

Rodriguez explained that the WRPD now owns the entire building, and rent monies from the gym and Great Northern give them income to maintain the building.

The Community Center rooms are available for parties, receptions, family gatherings, fundraisers, youth group and club activities and daytime or evening meetings.

The commercial kitchen is health department approved, said Weed’s Jerry Keen, who was one of the contractors who worked on the Community Center Project. It meets criteria for use by small food producers and includes a six-burner gas stove, ovens, a raised grill, a double-door refrigerator and freezer unit, ice machine, multiple sinks and ample counter space for prepping and serving.

Others who contributed their talents to the Center’s retrofit are Houston Plumbing, Gold Star Electric, and Solano’s Do It Best – “A lot of really good people,” said Keen.

Many of the contributers were present at Monday’s meeting. Also in attendance were the majority of the Weed Recreation and Parks District board – Kelsea Ochs, Mark Mazzoni, Martin Nicholas and Sue Tavalero.

“We knew a community center was the right thing to do,” said Tavalero, who is one of the people who worked for several years to make it become a reality. “I am so happy for the community.”

“What a gift,” said Weed’s mayor Bob Hall, who is also the WRPD’s Program Advisor. He said he attended a function at the Center over the weekend, where 28 Weed High School students played games and enjoyed an evening of youth activities.

“I sat there and watched and laughed... it was amazing to see this space being used that way,” Hall said.

A meeting have been scheduled to discuss the creation of senior programs that might utilize the facility including senior meals, computer instruction, and Medicare and insurance advocation.

The meeting will take place this Thursday, April 3, starting at 6 p.m. at the facility’s conference room, Hall said.

“You’ve given us a foundation, it’s our job to take it and build it with the spirit of community,” Hall told representatives of both the Ford Family and McConnell Foundations.

Others who attended the meeting included District Attorney Kirk Andrus; Sheriff Jon Lopey; District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff and his wife, Lynn; College of the Siskiyous trustee Carol Cupp, Weed city administrator Ron Stock and former administrator Earl Wilson; Ford Family Foundation executive associate Donna Wolford; and McConnell Foundation board member Doreeta Domke, among many others in the community who enjoyed a light supper and visited about possibilities for the new space.

“Enjoy yourselves and celebrate this vision that’s become a reality,” said Rodriguez at the conclusion of his presentation.

To reserve a space at the Weed Community Center, call 926-2494. There are special rates for non-profits and service clubs.