$5 million sports complex funded by donors and volunteers nearly finished
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SALMON — A grassroots community effort to build a new sports complex in Salmon is in the final stages of construction and members of the community are ecstatic about it.
Ken Armstrong, the project supervisor and board member of the Salmon Education Foundation, tells EastIdahoNews.com they’re hoping to have the 38,000-square-foot building complete in time for graduation in May.
“Our goal right now — if we’re allowed to have congregations — we will have Salmon’s graduation as the first event in here,” Armstrong says. “It’s going to be a tight schedule but we’re pushing to get that done.”
The Salmon Education Foundation is already planning a catered grand opening and open house celebration once it is complete.
The new building will include three full-size gyms with bleachers, a wrestling room, a weight and cardio room with treadmills and ellipticals, along with showers, locker rooms and restrooms. There will also be a stage for students to use for programs, plays or other activities.
Though it’s a community center, Armstrong says the school district, comprised of about 800 students, will also benefit from using it.
“The school system will be using this for P.E. and everything else to spread the kids out,” says Armstrong. “Right now, they’re trying to run fifth through 12th grade (practices) in one gymnasium. Some of those kids are coming to practice at 5:00 in the morning and they only get one practice. This will give them all room … to do quite a bit more. It will be a busy place.”
Emily Goodrich is a business owner and mother of five kids who just recently moved back to Salmon after many years. She says the addition of the sports complex was a contributing factor in her decision to come back to her hometown.
“We’re really looking forward to being able to bring back a lot of programs we’ve lost due to the lack of facilities,” Goodrich says. “It’s going to be nice. We’ve made things work with what we’ve had and now we’re going to have something that we can be proud of as a community. It’s exciting for everybody.”
The effort to bring a sports complex to Salmon has been in the works for several years. Some of the preliminary work was completed about six years ago, but there was never enough funding to move it forward. Voters rejected measures to fund the project more than six times in recent years.
Neptune Lynch, a retired business owner, got the ball rolling on the project last March after an initial donation of $2.5 million. Since then, construction companies and members of the community have continued to donate time and money to make the project a reality.
“Every penny has been donated,” Armstrong says. “It has just been amazing how the community has stepped up. Right now, about 35 local contractors are helping us do the internal framing. They’re all donating their time and will probably be here for five days. It’s been neat to watch this whole thing come together.”
Local contractors helped move about 80,000 yards of material just to clear the ground for construction. Once the project got underway, Armstrong says Lynch contributed an additional $1 million to the project. Armstrong says R & M Steel Company in Caldwell donated another $1.5 million in materials for the metal structure of the building.
“We still have people coming up and giving donations. Anywhere from $50 to — a month ago, we had a guy walk in with a $100,000 check. He didn’t want his name attached to it,” he says. “To see this thing and what’s going on has just been amazing.”
Salmon resident and building contractor Jim Bob Infanger says there have been some minor delays in construction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but everything has continued to move forward.
More than $5 million has been spent on the project so far. Between $300,000 and $400,000 is still needed to finish it, Armstrong says, but he’s confident the funding will become available.
“It hasn’t just been local people helping us out. We’ve had several outfits (in the Idaho Falls area) step up to help us,” he says. “The whole southern half of the state has stepped up to help us out with this.”
Armstrong is grateful to everyone who’s supported the project and he’s looking forward to celebrating with the community when it’s complete.
“This is going to bless thousands of people’s lives,” Goodrich says. “The opportunities that it opens to our community … is really incredible.”