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ELKO – A vision to have enough room for all age groups at the Boys and Girls Club of Elko is about to become a reality with an expansion that will provide ample space.

A jump in fifth and sixth grade students, or “tweens,” spurred the club to expand its five-year-old building, Bahr explained.

“I think we have about 60 to 70 every day,” he said. “They kicked the teens out of their center. We’ve really just run out of space.”

The expansion will add a new teen center three times larger than their current one, and include space for a fitness center, computers and outdoor deck. It will also allow more room to have separate age groups for boys and girls from kindergarten through fifth grade, plus a center for the tweens.

“Now we’ll really be able to serve our children, which was the vision,” Bahr said at a groundbreaking ceremony on Sept. 27, recalling founder Al Bernarda’s original plan to have the club at the expanded size.

“He had the vision to expand out the back and get a teen center, playgrounds” and other things, Bahr said. “This is really his vision coming true.”

Starting in modules behind Southside Elementary School about 20 years ago, the club’s membership reached 500 before moving to its current location on Country Club Drive, Bahr said. Today, the club serves about 1,200 youths.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth here,” Bahr said.

Renovations will include a multi-purpose room, additional storage, and remodeling of the restrooms to create multiple single-occupancy facilities.

Upgrades will also bring in acoustic paneling and a new public address system for the gymnasium, and a dedicated front lobby to accommodate an increase in dinners and special events the club hosts after hours.

“Our community events have really exploded,” Bahr said.

The project is expected to be completed next summer with construction to begin within the next couple of months. Summit Engineering, S.H. Architecture, and Lundahl Building Systems are involved in the construction and design.

The three companies are coordinating their efforts to keep the project on track, said Mark Edelmayer, project manager for Lundahl Building Systems.

“We’re working pretty hard behind the scenes so we can get this building built for the Boys and Girls Club,” said Edelmayer.

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Crediting the board for their efforts in launching the three projects, Bahr also announced the board of directors was the recipient of the Boys and Girls Club of America Eagle Award for the third year in a row.

“They really made this happen,” Bahr said. “The Eagle Award is the top award you can get for a board that is excelling.”

The expansion is the second one for a Boys and Girls Club in Elko County, with a groundbreaking in Wells taking place in August, which will add more space for children there and double as a community center, Bahr said.

“This new club will be the center for all of their sports activities and community functions,” Bahr said.

Once the Elko and Wells club projects are completed, the board will begin looking at a new building in Spring Creek, which Bahr said is “about two years down the road.”

“We have the land in our name right now and we have one donation to start off this campaign,” Bahr said.

As the ceremony ended, club member Pantera Kivisto said she had been going to the Boys and Girls Club for five years and she watched the teen center become too small to fit her and her friends.

“On behalf of all the teens, we would really like to thank you for this opportunity you’ve helped us achieve,” Kivisto told the audience at the groundbreaking. “Thank you so much for everything that you’ve done.”

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Courts, schools & Spring Creek reporter

Staff writer for the Elko Daily Free Press

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