Burg grant challenge

Pictured above, Jim and Bernice Burg are shown at their home in Wessington Springs standing adjacent to an artist rendering of the Springs Rec Center project. This week the Burgs announced a generous matching gift of up to $50,000 towards the project. 

Couple offers to match all new rec center project donations up to $50K

Longtime Wessington Springs residents and cattle producers Jim and Bernice Burg announced a generous matching gift of up to $50,000 to the Springs Rec Center project this week.

The Burgs will match each new donation, dollar for dollar up to $50,000 between now and the end of 2021. The fundraising challenge aims to encourage new donors to make a gift and essentially “double their donation” with the Burg’s matching challenge.

“I’ve been a member of this community for all my life and life has been fortunate to me,” said Burg. “We have a good school system and the rec center project will only make it better.” 

To date, Build Springs, the fundraising arm for the rec center project, has raised $554,000. This includes donations, pledges and special fundraising efforts like the alumni “Battle of the Classes” challenge and the Jackie Johnson Memorial Wall of Hope. If the Burg giving challenge is met, an additional $100,000 will be added to that total. Donations for the challenge can be designated to any of the special fundraising efforts. 

Burg said that the recent cold snap made him realize the physical activity benefits the rec center would provide for not only kids during school hours but also for the community as a whole.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had the space to keep kids active and out of the cold,” Burg said, adding that Covid social distancing guidelines have created another barrier for elementary-aged kids to get adequate physical activity during school hours. “With subzero temperatures, we have the inability to put kids out in the weather but have the challenge of keeping kids distanced indoors. This leads to kids having recess in their classrooms and not having space to be active.”

As for the community, the pandemic forced the gymnasium to close its doors to members of the public who may want to use it for walking, playing basketball or using exercise and weight room equipment. The wellness center at the hospital has also been closed to all users, eliminating any opportunity for physical exercise outside of the home during winter months when bitter cold weather prevents outdoor exercise.   

Beyond the benefits of physical activity, Burg also points to the rec center serving as a driver of economic development. 

“This type of center opens the door to things like expansion of the fine arts and Farm and Home show,” he said. “It also allows us to host larger youth sporting events that bring people to town — then they stay for supper, fill up their tanks with gas and grab drinks and snacks for the ride home at our area businesses.”

Burg believes a large part of the community doesn’t realize that schools have more activities than were held years ago during the days when he was growing up in Springs. 

“It’s partly due to Title 9,” Burg, who also serves on the Wessington Springs School Board explained about the law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual discrimination. “We have to have same number of activities available to women as you do to men — and that’s a lot of activities. Our school is the only school I can think of in our region that only has one gym for PreK-12.”

Burg credits his parents for teaching him the importance of giving generously when it comes to the community in which you live. 

“They had a huge impact on my generosity and were always forward-looking. Even though they didn’t have much, they were so generous to help continue the tradition of Wessington Springs as a progressive community,” Burg said. “I see the rec center as a legacy not only for  the kids but also a legacy for the whole community. I’m so appreciative to live here — the only way you keep a good community like this is to take care of it.” 

About the project

The Build Springs Committee goal for the Springs Rec Center project is to build a 13,000-square-foot recreation center that will house a fitness center, gymnasium, kitchen/ concessions, restrooms and locker rooms affixed to the existing gym at Wessington Springs Elementary School.

Proposed construction consists of precast exterior walls, roof bar joists with steel decking covered with R-40 insulation and a fully adhered roof. Estimates for construction costs are$1.75 million, or $134 per square foot.

More information about the project and ways you can donate can be found at www. springsreccenter.com or by calling Roger Hainy, 605-350-1238; Jim Scheel, 605-5451521; or Hilary Grohs, 605-680-9901.