By: Jill Meier, Journal editor, Brandon Valley Journal
That’s the one word the Brandon Wellness non-profit group has kept in the forefront of their quest to bring a community center to Brandon. And on Monday morning, Brandon Wellness took a huge leap forward in bringing an idea to fruition by signing a contract with Mammoth Sports Construction to design, market and fundraise for the project.
“Let the journey continue,” remarked Mammoth Director of Business Development Derik Budig at Monday’s contract signing. “Because that really is what the journey is. At the end of the day when we’re done, it’s not the building, but it’s what happens inside the building, and that’s what I think Mammoth is most excited about is to be that vehicle to drive that community strength, family strength and strength of kids. There’s no better calling than that.”
He went on to say there is no better feeling when passion and community collide.
“When you have a passionate group of Brandon residents and the community come together, this is right where the sweet spot is. We’re super thankful to have you guys here today and are looking forward to walking together over the next few months,” Budig said.
Before a group of community investors and supporters Brandon Wellness President John Semchenko said it was about this same time last year that the group asked themselves, ‘To make this happen, what is it really going to take?’
“It takes people that are really committed to community that have great intentions and they have big dreams,” Semchenko said. “And that’s really what we found with you, Derik. Thank you for leading us. I know from our first meeting, it’s been almost too good to be true, but because of your vision and what we want to do, Brandon is about building a better life, and that’s what we want.”
Semchenko said it’s the non-profit’s goal to have dirt turning when the community celebrates its 50th year of incorporation this July.
“We really believe in you guys (Mammoth) and we know that you can get that done. We’re really counting on your team to see this happen in Brandon,” Semchenko said.
Sitting alongside Semchenko was Brandon Wellness project manager and board member, Mike Bergst. A transplant from Colorado Springs to Brandon four years ago, Semchenko said Bergst has been one of the driving forces leading up to Monday’s contract signing.
“If you had to pick one person that is responsible for this partnership, this relationship, Mike has spent, I would say countless hours and phone calls talking about what this would look like,” Semchenko said. “Mike did a great job of doing a lot of research. He’s been in this industry for multiple decades, so he knows his stuff.”
Semchenko also doled out a wealth of kudos, citing the City of Brandon, and its leadership in Mayor Harry Buck and city administrator Bryan Read.
“It begins there,” he said. “They had a vision for this land (in Aspen Park). We just appreciate them, we couldn’t do it without them.”
He also thanked the Brandon business community and Rachael Neiman, president/CEO of the Brandon Valley Chamber of Commerce, Chad Padgett of Sunshine Foods and Aaron Hansen, owner of the Pizza Ranch, all financial contributors to the Brandon Wellness mission.
“There’s many other partners in our business community. The Chamber was really our first sponsor, and Pizza Ranch and Sunshine have stepped up big time to make this day possible, so thank you guys for believing in us,” Semchenko said. “There are individuals that have invested time, but more specifically have finances in this: Gary and Barb Fish, Amanda and Joe Barton. Without those two families and their willingness to take a lead role and gift financially, this day wouldn’t be possible. We really see Brandon Wellness being truly a community effort. Today’s the first step, signing a design contract with Mammoth Construction. We’re going to design a space to fit our community and when that design is done, we’re going to need to build it, so if you’re part of the community, we’re going to need you.”
Semchenko also cited Josh Sneller, a relative newcomer to Brandon, and Alderman Tim Jorgenson, for their contributions and support.
“Tim and I had one of the first conversations over three years ago on what this could look like, and he said we could do this in Brandon,” Semchenko recalled.
Bergst determined there are five main reasons he stepped up for the cause.
“That’s November, December, January, February and March,” he said. “I’m going to change it, because it might be April, too.”
“That’s the primary reason is there needs to be a place to go. In Brandon, in this location that we have, we’re basically five minutes away from every person that lives in Brandon to be able to go there to do whatever they’d like to do, from sports to working out to meeting rooms. On a personal level, there’s three reasons for me, as I have three grandchildren that live in Brandon. Them sitting around during these months going, ‘Gosh, it’s so boring, there’s nothing to do,’ this gives us an opportunity to do that, and that’s the excitement level that I have for that,” Bergst said. “On the other side too, you need a place to go where you can be a community, and that’s what we’re all about in Brandon is to have a community place to have meetings, sports events. We’ve talked to Special Olympics, and they want to be part of this. We’ve talked to basketball associations, and they want to be part of this. This is not a sports building. This is a community center for Brandon, and that’s the beauty of what we’re doing, is we’re doing it for the community and bringing those pieces together.”
The tentative design for Brandon Wellness is shaped in horse shoe fashion. It includes an indoor turf field for soccer, which is surrounded by a track, a climbing wall, pickle ball courts, raquet ball, meeting rooms, kids’ zone and a kids’ party room, golf simulator, weight and workout room, outdoor turf space, and more.
Cheri Bergst, the treasurer/secretary for Brandon Wellness, said the non-profit has a goal of raising $2 million for what is anticipated to be a two-phase project. Brandon Area Soccer Association has committed to invest their fundraising dollars into the project.
“It’s a team effort, a group effort and who cares about the community to make this happen,” Cheri Bergst said.
Aspen Park, she believes, is the ideal location for the community gathering place.
“We really want the community to help out and to get our families and children involved,” she added.
To stay abreast on the progress of Brandon Wellness, visit the non-profit’s Facebook page.
By: Jill Meier, Journal editor, Brandon Valley Journal @brandonvalleyjournal.com Published March 7, 2023