January 19, 2021

Stevens County Times

Your spot for community news in Stevens County, Minnesota

Lee Community Center gets new boards in before a hopeful winter season begins

The newly upgraded Lee Community Center is ready for the hockey season with a new set of hockey boards with sleek blue backing and ledges that run around both sides of the North end of the ice. This is just a few of several upgrades to the building thanks to the Capital Improvement Drive started in June 2019. Brooke Kern / Stevens County Times

The Lee Community Center received its second of three upgrades intended for the quarter-million dollar Capital Improvement Drive, which started in June 2019. The installation of all new-to-Morris used hockey boards wrapped up Dec. 1.

The previous boards came from Mariucci Arena, in Minneapolis, when the Lee Community Center was first built in 1994 and endured a lot of repairs and maintenance over the years, Jordan Staples said. Staples is the Morris Hockey Association President and one of the leads on the Capital Improvement Drive.

“They have seen 25 years of use in our facility and many more prior (at Mariucci Arena)… It was time to do a total overhaul to update and prepare them for years to come,” Staples said.

The approximate cost of the new used set of hockey boards was $100,000 and came from Victoria, British Columbia. The process to remove the old hockey boards began in mid-September, Staples said.

“It took two weeks to remove and install a majority of the new-to-us boards and are still currently working on the project with volunteer help in the evenings after work,” Staples said of the new set of used hockey boards that were purchased from Arena Warehouse, in Alexandria. “MHA members and players assisted with removal of old boards and the installation of the entire new-to-us used set.”

The first capital improvement project was to install a dehumidification system and air exchangers to remove humidity and moisture out of the building to help preserve it for many hockey seasons to come. This was installed this past spring.

“The doors and steel interior began to rust throughout the building, and we started to see doors that have holes rusted out,” Staples said of the need for the system. “This will help to improve the air quality and eliminate musty odors. It will also help lower our energy cost during the winter months and improve the efficiency of ice making and the quality of our ice.”

The third and final project for the Capital Improvement Drive is the update to the refrigeration system, which is the system that cools the hockey arena floor. The current system uses a R-22 refrigerant that is no longer manufactured as of 2020 and is harmful to the environment, Staples said. The estimated cost to complete this update is $100,000 and funds are still needed to be able to purchase this upgrade. Staples said about $85,000 needs to be raised to reach the $250,000 goal of the Capital Improvement Drive.

“This year has been difficult for all businesses and nonprofits like us that rely on fundraisers for income to keep our cost low for our hockey families. Those fundraisers were canceled this year,” Staples said. “The Lee Community Center also is currently closed due to the Executive Order from Governor Walz with the rise in Covid-19 cases. With that, we continue to have operating expenses as we keep maintaining the ice so we are ready for when we can open the door back up to our community and our MBA Storm Hockey program.”

The goal is to raise all necessary funds to complete the third and final project of the Capital Improvement Drive by the end of 2021, Staples said.

“We are excited to have our community enjoy these upgrades and hope to continue with improvement when we are able, so that the Lee Community Center can be around for years to come,” Staples said. “We welcome our community to utilize the LCC for our walking track, events, parties, expos, garage sales for dry floor or during the winter, the ice for skating, hockey, or parties.”

The Lee Community Center can be booked by contacting morrishockeyassoc@gmail.com or calling 320-589-4585. For LCC schedule and updates on Morris Hockey Association or Lee Community Center, check out www.mbastorm.com or the Lee Community Center Facebook page.

“The Morris Hockey Association would like to say a big thank you to our community for the support and making these improvements possible as we are blessed to have a community like Morris,” Staples said.

If you would like to help or donate to Morris Hockey Association (501 3(c)) or the Capital Improvement Drive, contact Jordan Staples at 320-808-7634 or by email at jordan.staples@mnsu.edu.

Brooke Kern