Project Spotlight: DeSmet Event & Wellness Center

The DeSmet Event & Wellness Center, located just north of US Highway 14 on the west side of town, is a facility with a distinct appearance that catches the eye from the highway and elicits arousing responses from visitors. Within the precast walls and tinted windows of the building are a large community room, several meeting rooms, kitchen, fitness center, stage, theatre and an indoor walking track.

Beginnings of this impressive project can be traced back to the DeSmet Community Needs Assessment that was completed in 2006. The assessment was developed with considerable citizen input, and the need for a community owned facility to meet multiple public needs was one of the priorities identified. Project planning began in earnest in the spring of 2012 when a steering committee was formed to develop a preliminary layout for the proposed facility. Revisions to the layout were made based upon input received during public meetings, and those ideas were incorporated into the final architectural design.

Funding, secured in 2012 and 2013, came from a variety of local, state and private sources. The City of DeSmet agreed to provide $400,000, while $515,000 came from the State of South Dakota in the form of a Community Development Block Grant award made by Governor Dennis Daugaard. Perhaps the most impressive piece of the funding puzzle was the outpouring of over $2 million in donations from private citizens and area businesses. Raising seven figures in a community with a population just north of 1,000 is truly an impressive feat, and credit for this successful outcome is a result of the efforts of the steering committee members. Fundraising abilities of those steering committee members would later be put to the ultimate test. Bids opened in early 2014 for the building construction project were approximately onehalf million dollars higher than initial estimates, and a second round of fundraising efforts was soon underway. Results were nothing short of astonishing. $450,000 was raised by the community in less than 24 hours. Funding shortfalls were erased and construction commenced near the midpoint of the 2014 calendar. To date, over 1,400 donors have contributed to the project.

The DeSmet Event & Wellness Center opened to the public in the summer of 2015 and has already hosted wedding receptions, family reunions, dance classes, fundraisers, a painting event featuring 60 artists from five states, and a theater production that ran for two weeks. The exercise equipment in the wellness center and the indoor walking track receive frequent use from community members.

Director Kristy Hubbard (605-854-6060) is willing to work with groups and individuals interested in hosting events at the site. Versatile space and a central location in eastern South Dakota make the DeSmet Event & Wellness Center an ideal place for regional conferences. Please contact Kristy Hubbard for more information about the DeSmet Event & Wellness Center facility or Ted Haeder (605-882-5115) for additional information about how the Community Development Block Grant funding was utilized for this project.