A Gathering Place for the Community
Since its inception in 1977, the Owasso Community Center has been a place for residents to come and participate in programs, club meetings, special occasions and educational opportunities. People of all ages have participated in events at the center that have helped enrich their lives and many more opportunities will be available for years to come.
Take a look at the Community Center’s journey through it's important history.
Owasso Center Groundbreaking Ceremony Held
-Article published in the April 7, 1977 edition of the Owasso Reporter
The planning, funding and the start of the Community Center became a “dream of reality” when groundbreaking ceremonies were held at 2 p.m. Friday, April 1 at the site of the Center. The Center will be located south of City Hall. James R. Jones, Congressman of the First District, was the principal speaker. He was introduced by Mayor Jerrold Holt, who served as master of ceremonies.
In introducing Jones, Mayor Holt expressed his thanks and that of the community for Jones assistance in obtaining the grant for the Center.
Jones explained that the Center for Owasso was through the largest Federal Grant ever received in the amount of $425,000 from the office of Economic Development Administration. It is the only one in the First District and one of only 2 in the entire state. It was part of a $2 million bill. “I am very pleased Owasso was the recipient of the grant,” Jones stated. “It is always a pleasure to visit with the Owasso people and especially nice to be a part of ceremonies for this fine building. I feel certain it will be put to good use and is appreciated,” he added.
“This is a great day for Owasso. There are those who will complain about the money spent, but they are not the builders of the country. A building of this sort can only improve the community,” Jones said. city Manager Bill Parese spoke briefly telling the people that the Community Center is a tremendous facility for the people of Owasso. “It is so great that I’ve been kidding the senior citizens by telling them they could have city hall and we’ll take the new building,” Parese said.
On a serious note Parese stated that over 400 groups applied for the Grant. “I felt that our chances of getting it were slim or none, but this shows you what faith in the Lord and faith in people can do. A few months ago the senior citizens and myself were very disappointed when we lost a bid on the purchase of a pre-fab. Now I feel we were fortunate. We waited and something much better did come along,” Parese said. “The Community Center should be a credit to you, the citizens, through your elected and appointed officials. When this facility is completed, remember the most important aspect is that it is your Center, so enjoy it as I know you will for many years to come,” Parese said in completing his remarks. State Senator of District 34, Bob Shatwell said, “If America fails, it’s because good people do nothing. That is not the case in Owasso as is evident here today. A lot of good people have done a lot to bring about this fine facility you will have soon in Owasso.”
The new facility will be 10,600 square feet and will consist of an arts and crafts room, lecture room, game rooms, food preparation, meeting rooms, exercise room plus conference rooms and offices for personnel. While it will be known as the Community Center it will become the permanent home base for the Owasso Senior Citizens.
Representing the senior citizens was Benn Palmer, chairman of the Board on Owasso’s Council for the Aging. In his brief remarks he said, “Thanks a million for our future home when we are away from home. It’s our first birthday of being organized as a Senior Citizens group, so the groundbreaking comes at a very fitting time. It will make our golden years a more enjoyable time. The senior citizens of Owasso are most grateful.”
Other people introduced by Mayor Holt were, Owasso Councilmen, Boyd Spencer, Bill Williams and V.D. Duncan; Roger Helm, of Helm Construction Company who received the bid for the building of the Center and Jerry Lasker of Indian Nationals Council of Governments.
Entertainment was provided by Merry Music Makers, a senior citizens band from Tulsa.
The senior citizens served refreshments following the ceremonies. Serving as hostesses were Mrs. Iola Claussen, coordinator and Mrs. Mae Franklin, outreach worker. Senior citizens assisting were Mrs. Altus Wright, Mrs. Nora Tate, Mrs. Lavina Finch, Mrs. Edith Thiessen, Mrs. Lois McDaniels, Mrs. Virgie Jenkins, Mrs. Vallie Harris and Mrs. Winnie Cramer.
It was a cold day on April 1, 1977 when Owassons turned out for groundbreaking ceremonies for the new community center. Despite the weather the mood was a festive one.
Once the ceremonies were over, everyone moved inside to enjoy the entertainment and refreshments that were served.
A Tulsa contractor was the apparent low bidder for the construction of the Owasso Community Center and the newspaper article stated that 'additional items can be added as a result'.
- On October 14, 1976 the City of Owasso applied for Federal Assistance to build a Community Center. This was a grant in the amount of $425,000. The application was approved by INCOG Regional on January 1, 1977. The intended use for the Community Center was outlined in the grant as follows: The City of Owasso proposes to construct a 10,600 square foot building to be utilized as a Community Center. The community center will include arts and crafts room, conversation room, and meeting-dining room food preparation area. Also, there will be some office space available for use by a supervisor and/ or dietician to better organize all functions created by the new community center. The City of Owasso as a suburban community to the City of Tulsa and the Tulsa SMSA is growing rapidly in population. With this growth the City of Owasso has had to concentrate on the expansion of the water and sewage facilities. With the City of Owasso having to concentrate on water and sewer expansion, the city budget has been unable to provide for other community-service type of facilities and/or programs. The most critical need in the City of Owasso for other community services is a community center, which would allow the citizens to gather for public meetings and also serve as a Senior Citizens Center for approximately 300 persons. At present there is no lunch area within the city to use as a meeting hall. Their existing city hall does not have the required space available for these types of activities. The building would be used by various organizations for civic meetings and be available for any public hearings that may be called for by the City of Owasso. One of the major needs of the new center is to establish a place for senior citizens to gather and organize activities. This is shown by the inclusion of the game rooms, lecture area, arts and crafts area, and conversation room. At present, the City of Owasso provides an area to the senior citizens which is totally inadequate and inaccessible to the handicapped and elderly. The existing facility is provided for in a basement of an existing downtown structure.
- On October 25, 1976 the First Bank of Owasso notified the City of Owasso and Bill Parese, City Manager that they would provide interim financing as necessary during construction of the Community Center. This commitment was contingent on the City of Owasso obtaining a $450,000 Federal Grant for the project.
- On January 1, 1977 notification of the grant was received by the city. The work was scheduled to be completed within 12 months.
- The grant paid for the complete construction of the Community Center. The Center has served as a multi-use facility accommodating senior specific programs and activities as well as serving the citizens of all ages from the time it was built. There are numerous activities in the facility each day.
- 1996 began a period of 5 years of improvements. Old window systems were rusted and in very poor condition and were replaced. Interior walls were painted and offices renovated. The following replacements were made - refrigerator, stove, freezer, twelve new tables, and a popcorn machine with grants at no cost to the city.
- In October 1997 the city passed a bond election to carry out additional improvements at the Center. At the same time staff received a $35,000 grant to help with these improvements. In the election $200,000 was for the following improvements at the Community Center: roof replacement, carpet replacement, repair the heat and air units, replace the window system in the council chamber, and partition replacement. All of these repairs were completed with the money provided by the CBDG Grant and the "97" Bond election.
- Grants were obtained from CENA (Community Expansion of Nutrition Assistance) for the senior program. In 2008 the renovation and refurbishment of the center's restrooms took place. In 2009 the sidewalk in front of the Community Center was upgraded. In 2010 CENA funds renovated and repaired the community center’s roof. In 2011, CENA funds will provide the renovation of the Eagles Room with ceramic tiled floors, laminate countertops, repairs and fresh paint.