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Rambling River Center pays its debt to city of Farmington two years early

The Rambling River Center fundraising sign celebrates success.

The members of Farmington's Rambling River Center pay their debts. And they pay them early.

Rambling River Center has been operating at the site of the old Farmington City Hall, on Fourth and Oak streets, since 2009. The city of Farmington funded most of the renovation, but the center's membership was required to raise $90,000 for the project, as well. The city gave Rambling River Center a $90,000 loan, and five years to pay it back.

Well, on Monday, Rambling River Center members did just that - they paid back the $90,000 loan with a ceremonial check, which they presented at the Farmington City Council meeting. The check represents payments made on the loan over the past three years.

Three years. Not five.

"We made it," Rambling River Center coordinator Missie Kohlbeck said. "I think the advisory board was surprised, and our fundraising committee as well, not that we met our goal, but that we're ahead of schedule."

Kohlbeck shared the good news with the Rambling River Center Advisory Board at its meeting last week. Fundraising committee members were among the first to be notified, as well. Then, they started sharing the good news with members, especially those who had made personal donations to the center.


The Rambling River Center fundraising push started with a $12,400 jump start. That money was raised while the center was at its old location, parks and recreation director Randy Distad said, with the intent of using it for improvements to the previous building. When city hall offices moved and the old city hall space became available, members saw the opportunity for a new Rambling River Center. They chose to save that money and put it toward the new site, rather than try to fix the old.

A committee planned no fewer than 39 events from 2009 through 2011, according to Distad. They held fashion shows, waffle breakfasts and garage sales. Proceeds from Kiss the Pig during Dew Days and the police department's annual bike auction also went to Rambling River Center. The Farmington VFW made several donations of proceeds from steak frys, and the Farmington Sons of the American Legion/American Legion Auxiliary donated proceeds from omelet breakfasts.

The center got 148 individual or family donations for the project. A room naming rights project netted $33,500 in pledges. To date, $28,000 of that amount has been collected.

"The members and the advisory board and fundraising committee have worked very hard here to do all those fundraisers and get those donations," Kohlbeck said. "We really do live in a very generous community."

History repeats itself

This is the second time in the senior center's history that members were challenged to raise a significant amount for the center, and it's the second time they have met the goal ahead of schedule.

Rambling River Center celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012, Kohlbeck said. When Farmington Senior Center opened in 1982, Farmington's seniors were told they would have to help raise money if they wanted to have a senior center.

Interestingly, some of the members who helped to raise the money in 1982 were the parents of some of the members who are part of today's fundraising committee.

Regardless, the achievement comes as no surprise to Distad.

"They said they were going to do it, and by golly, they delivered."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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