The St. Francis Civic Center is Underway!
The city of St. Francis broke ground on its new Civic Center at 3400 East Howard Avenue on Sunday, October 27. City officials, citizens and special guests were in attendance as hundreds celebrated this remarkable moment in St. Francis city history. The day was the culmination of years of planning for the Civic Center, which will be the new home of the Police Department, Fire Department, City Hall and the St. Francis Historical Society.
Described by city planners as “a symbol of pride and our unique sense of community,” the Civic Center will bring together all units of city government under one roof, for increased efficiency, sharing of resources and a higher level of safety.
Attendees began to arrive at the site before 11 a.m. to see presentations by the St. Francis Police and Fire Departments, the St. Francis Historical Society, the Lions Club and more. Also represented was the “Buy A Stone” program, in which those interested in being a part of the Civic Center can purchase an engraved stone as part of the public plaza seating wall and garden wall. With warm drinks and homemade refreshments in hand, participants of all ages visited with friends and neighbors, walked from booth to booth to see the displays, and and stood in awe next to fire trucks, police vehicles and the giant backhoe from the St. Francis Department of Public Works.
At 11:30, St. Francis Mayor CoryAnn St. Marie-Carls began the formal Groundbreaking ceremony, and she described the stunning new Civic Center.
“The new Civic Center will be the hub of our community. With our City Hall and municipal services, meeting rooms for citizens and committees, and a beautiful central rotunda that will house a permanent St. Francis Historical Society exhibit, it will truly be the jewel of Saint Francis.”
Presenters at the program included Bill Drehfal, President of the St. Francis Historical Society, who described the people who have inhabited the site, from Native American groups, through farmers who worked the fields, to the City of St. Francis, which will now call the site home.
“While our Civic Center will be the new home of our Police Department, Fire Department and City Hall,” said Mayor St. Marie-Carls, “we are adding a truly unique element with the addition of the Historical Society. This partnership allows us to bring forward our foundations of the past as we move forward to the future, and enhances public use of our building by providing exhibits for visitors, citizens and, most importantly, our youth.”
Also on hand to give her blessing on the land was Sister Jeanne d’ Arc Omilan of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi (OSF), who have called St. Francis home for more than 160 years.
With the St. Francis City Council, Miss St. Francis, Cecilia Margraff, began the countdown, after which the backhoe was fired up, the bucket lowered, and the ground broken! Then, members of the Council, Police and Fire Departments, city staff, committees and commissions and Historical Society, as well as past city officials, architects and builders took up shovels, posed for photos and dug in. Citizens were invited to do the same, and the event ended with a group of the youngest residents of St. Francis, shovels in hand, blazing a trail into their future.
“The planning of this beautiful Civic Center was a team effort; myself, our City Council, City Administrator Tim Rhode, department heads, our partners Bray Architects and Beyer Construction, and dozens of valuable citizens,” concluded Mayor St. Marie-Carls. “Together we will call the Civic Center home for many, many years to come.”
The St. Francis Municipal Development Committee, formed by former Mayor Al Richards, began discussing the need for a new municipal facility in 2010. Mayor St. Marie-Carls continued the committee and added more citizen members. The members concluded that there was a need for a new municipal facility and in August 2012 asked the City Council to move forward. They named the new facility the St. Francis Civic Center and since then the City Council, staff members and department heads have worked toward a common goal. Their efforts will come to fruition in Fall 2014, when the St. Francis Civic Center opens its doors.
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