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Ribbon cut after years of work
Milner Rec Center opens1.jpg
Milner Recreation Center opened Monday. Pictured, from left, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony are Aldermen Zach Sutton, Rachel Kirby, Steve Harvey, Everett Brock and Sally Brock, Don Milner, Doug Milner, Parks and Recreation director Scott McCord, former mayor Ben Newman, Mayor Ryle Chastain, former mayor Jimmy Haley and city administrator Nolan Ming. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

A 28-month wait came to an end Monday with the opening of Milner Recreation Center. 

While business resumed in the rest of the building, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in the gym at 12:30 p.m. In attendance were numerous members of city government, both past and present, members of the Milner family, and representatives from Sain Construction Company, local businesses and civic organizations.  

“This is truly a historic day for the city of McMinnville,” said Mayor Ryle Chastain. “Some 50 years ago, some community leaders like Mr. Sam Martin envisioned a focal point in our community that could be used for fellowship and community gatherings. Through their hard work and contributions, that resulted in McMinnville Civic Center. Fast forward to today and we stand in a fully modernized facility that is reopening after over two years of very hard work.”

Chastain gave special recognition to the facility’s namesake Dr Pepper Bottling Company owner Doug Milner, “Without the contributions of Doug Milner and his family, I don’t know what the city would have done over the years,” Chastain said, a statement that was followed by applause. 

Chastain offered a succession of thank you statements to HFR Design for designing the building, Sain Construction Company for making those plans a reality, the patience of Parks and Recreation Department employees, current and former Board of Mayor and Aldermen members, the public for its patience and to those who took time out of their day to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The project spanned three city mayors – Ben Newman, Jimmy Haley and Chastain. 

At $9.2 million in actual construction costs and up to $10 million approved to cover any extras or surprises, former mayor Ben Newman called the project the largest in the city’s history.

“When I first walked in and they were going through the punch list of final items, I just couldn’t believe how much it has changed,” said Newman. “We’ve spent a lot of money on this. It’s the largest project the city has ever done, but it looks like a brand new building. There’s an existing building here, but when you look around, everything looks brand new.”

What began as a 51,091-square-foot building is now 75,134 square feet. There was 11,270 added to the lower level, and 12,773 to the upper level.

“This is about quality of life and improving healthcare and recreation across the entire county,” said Haley. “We appreciate the investment by the city of McMinnville as we work to improve our well-being across many areas of recreation and fitness, but also providing a community meeting space as well. When I was city mayor, this was a dream of mine to bring this to fruition. I was here 40 plus years ago when the original Civic Center was dedicated.”

After the ceremony and official cutting of the ribbon was concluded, individuals in attendance were urged to explore the facility.

On July 18, a grand opening will be offered from 2 to 6 p.m. That event will include giveaways, games, crafts, a band, catered food, class demonstrations, guided tours and a slide show of renovation pictures. That day also coincides with expanded hours of the facility. Beginning that day, the center will also be open Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. and hours will expand on Fridays and Saturdays to 8 p.m.