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By Kevin Fox
Earlier this past week, officials with the City of Alexandria were very excited to pay off the town’s community center. It is very hard to estimate just how much the center means to the town until you look at the history the pair share.
In June of 1993, the City of Alexandria was very excited about the prospects of having the work on their new community center being completed. The building was 45’X60′ and the cost of the building was $40,000+ for just the shell, not the finish work. A great deal of volunteer work went into the building, including Jack Wilson doing the electrical work.
A month later, the community had much more to worry about as the floodwaters of the Mississippi, claimed the town. The Community Center’s only major damage was the front door. Even before the floodwaters were completely out of the town, the center’s importance to the community was realized and the Salvation Army, Community Action, and United Way came in and pressure washed the center. Following that washing SEMA inspected the building and it was approved and almost immediately the building was in use for supplies (water & food) and services. Once the water got low enough, the levees were repaired, and the remaining water was pumped out. But through all of this it was the community center where residents gathered and were supportive for each other.
Fundraisers provided a great deal of financial assistance in paying for furnishings, such as tables, chairs, and cookers. Fundraisers were also held to purchase other city items such as weed eaters, and lawn tractors. The community as well as the area has been supportive of these fundraisers. To say that the building gets used, would be a huge understatement. Besides the regular city council meeting, the building is rented almost every weekend and has been used for everything from Christmas parties to a funeral. The Community Center was once the community’s lifeline and it now is utilized as a gathering place for families and organizations from all over the tri-state area. Through it’s use there have been countless benefits that have served to provide assistance for other communities and individuals in their time of need. It also serves as a monument to those who fought so hard in keeping Alexandria alive and thriving as the community continues to grow. Alexandria now has a population of over 200 and at the time of the 1993 flood there were an estimated 400 people living within the town. And regardless of size, in this day of age, any city has a right to be proud of being debt free.