Late in 1986, a committee was formed to investigate the possibility of constructing an indoor ice facility for the South Wood County Hockey Association.
The original members were; Richard Bugalski Pete Fogarty Dick Grund John Sager John Sweeney Sr. Jim Shewchuck (Chairman).
They sent questionnaires to 22 communities in Wisconsin and received 11 responses.
The committee met with various representatives to determine if any public land would be available. The city reps were supportive of the project but the Public Property Committee determined that the available sites would conflict with residential areas causing neighborhood opposition (not in my backyard).
The committee turned to the Board of Education and after several meetings the Board approved a facility to be built on the Lincoln High School grounds providing the building met with Board approval and adequate financing was obtained.
In August of 1988 the committee received a budget estimate of $1,986,460.00 from the Oscar J. Boldt Construction Company.
The committee determined the feasibility of proceeding with and raising the needed funds to be positive and moved forward with the project. While meeting with community leaders it was also determined that while Witter Field was a sporting and recreation landmark it had deteriorated beyond practical use for some sports. Converting the baseball field to single use would result in the installation of a much needed warning track, new tennis courts, new ticket entrance, new warming house, new scoreboard, and a sign on Eighth Street South recognizing the location of the renovated center for recreational and sporting activities. The improvements also allowed for youth sports teams to participate in “home” events and host conference, sectional, and regional sporting events.
The committee also determined a football field would need to be built and funds raised for storage facilities and the installation of under field automatic sprinkler system at Washington Soccer Field.
South Wood County 2000, Inc was incorporated September 13th, 1989.
The original directors were:
Robert C. Arterburn
William H. McLaughlin
Donald L. Stein
James E. Shewchuck
The mission of SWC 2000 was to develop and maintain athletic and cultural facilities in South Wood County that enhances the quality of life for people of all ages.
Prior to starting the fund drive SWC 2000 received a gift of $560,000.00 from MR. & Mrs. William Huffman. The gift was not restricted with William being quoted as saying “The athletic and cultural facilities planned by SWC 2000 will meet an important need in our area. The new and improved facilities will exhibit pride and faith in our community and most importantly; add to the recreational and cultural opportunities for people of all ages. The contribution will be unrestricted, although I believe the bulk of it should be expended toward the estimated $503,000.00 renovation of Witter Field, located as it is in the center of the city and is accessible to young people and adults for other activities.
The gift from the Huffman’s was the catalyst that allowed SWC 2000 to carry out its mission. Engineers, draftsmen, accountants, tax specialists, purchasing, public affairs, contractors, and attorneys donated their services in assisting SWC 2000 in getting started.
A partnership was formed between SWC 2000 and the SWCYHA. Jim Shewchuck of SWC 2000 and Gary Phillips of the SWCYHA worked very closely together to accomplish the projects goals.
The Consolidate Foundation gifted $865,000.00, the R.S. Brazeau Foundation gifted $300,000.00, the Leonard and Lillian Bethke Endowment fund gifted $1,131,000.00, the Gottschalk’s $60,000.00, and the above mentioned Huffman gift of $560,000.00. The remaining fundraising was provide3d by volunteers and total out of pocket costs were less than $20,000.00.
Boldt Construction was the general contractor for the Recreation Center monitored byGary Phillips and Jim Shewchuck. Many volunteer hours were contributed by electricians, pipefitters, and painters. Vounteers carried out the ice making piping, the locker room block work, and the painting and laying of rubber flooring. While most of the contractors did the work at a minimum of profit the work was completed with no debt and no cost to the taxpayers. The locker rooms were later donated by volunteer work, and the bleachers were provided by the SWCYHA and SWC 200.
To avoid paying taxes on the new Recreation center, ownership was transferred to the SWCYHA, who by state statue, are exempt from property taxes. Rental costs would have been 30-40% higher had SWC 2000 retained ownership.
In meeting with other facilities we discovered many conflicts of use betweenj hockey, figure skating, and open skate. To eliminate this problem a Recreation Center Board was established and made up of;
2 representatives from SWCYHA
2 representatives from SWC 2000
2 representatives from SWCYHA
1 representative from the Board of Education
1 representative from the city of Wisconsin Rapids
1 representative from the Chamber of Commerce
1 representative from Figure Skating
1 member at large
The purpose of the SWCRC Board is to provide a governing body that has continuity to govern the Centers operation for the benefit of all South Wood County. The Board is to meet at least three times per year.
As of August 31st, 2011 the SWC 2000 has given or committed a total of $4,669,835.00 to the community.
Donations of $330,090 to Witter Field resulted in new tennis courts, renovated field house, renovated baseball field, reconditioned stands, and a new ticket entrance. These donations paved the way for the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters to make Witter Field their home.
Donations of $68,017 to the soccer field enabled the addition of new soccer fields, new sprinkler systems, and a new concession building. Donations of $446,008.00 provided the new football and track field to install lights. This was the total cost and less than half of what the school board had received as an estimated cost. This was a result of contractors taking less money, volunteer labor, and utilizing the restrooms, locker rooms, and concession area of the Recreation Center.
Donations of $750,000.00 to the Performing Arts Center enabled the facility to be upgraded to a first class facility. Ann additional $150,000.00 was donated to maintain upgrades to the center.
At a SWC 2000 meeting on April 4th, 2004 the Board approved a donation tom Lincoln High School for their tennis courts of $60,000.00 and a donation of $90,000.00 for the construction of a locker room for the high school hockey team. The vote for the tennis courts was unanimous while two members dissented for the locker room based on the fact that no other parties were making any contributions. The high school Hockey teams are an integral part of the SWCYHA and SWCRC. At the time it was started the SWCRC agreed to not charge for ice practice times between 3:15 and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Thanks to volunteer participation; rental rates for the SWCYHA and SWCFA are the lowest in the state.
The SWC 2000’s commitment to the city of Wisconsin Rapids and the Board of Education that no taxpayer funds would be required for construction had been met. It is a goal that this commitment is continued so that a burden is not placed on the taxpayers of Wood County. The locker room cost of $90,000.00 was based on a two year old estimate from Boldt Construction. The new plan was redrawn to reduce the amount of construction materials and the cost was now $116,000.00. So it sat there $26,000.00 short of funding. The SWCRC requested that the SWCYHA make a contribution for the funds needed. The SWCYHA did not approve the contribution.
The Booster club assisted in providing the needed funds. Providing suitable locker facilities for the high school teams was consistent with the goal of having good sports facilities. Without suitable facilities the Lincoln tennis teams and hockey teams could not host playoff events. It was important that the SWC 2000 provide the proper facilities for the high school sporting teams; mainly the Lincoln hockey team.
The SWC 2000 is recognized for providing opportunities for student athletes that would not have been provided without their continued commitment.