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Oasis celebrates first 30 years and a new home

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[July 16, 2014]  LINCOLN - Saturday afternoon the Oasis Senior Center wrote the opening paragraph on a new chapter in its history in Logan County.

If each major event in history constitutes a chapter, then the last year for the Oasis has been a chapter within itself. It was just a little over 12 months ago that the Oasis downtown building was struck by lightning, and burned. After several hours of fighting the fire, it was brought under control and extinguished. But, the devastation to the building was overwhelming.

After much consideration, the board of directors of the Oasis determined that they were not going to be able to do what it would take to restore the building. They were able to sell that structure to local businessman David Lanterman, who now does have plans to bring the building back to its former glory at some point in the future.

For the Oasis, the search began for a new location, and over the next several months the group made some forward-thinking decisions, including purchasing the former Rusty’s Clubhouse on the city’s far west side. In making this purchase, they were looking ahead to the future of the senior center and the population it would be serving down the road. The building had more than enough space for the organization to expand its services and its ability to serve Logan County seniors.

Though the building had ample space for the organization, the lay-out of the former sports bar and restaurant was not conducive to the overall plan of the board. The next step then was to hire a contractor who would be able to transform the space into something more appropriate. After taking bids on the project, Webster Construction of Lincoln was hired to do a complete remodel of the interior.

The floor plan included special features such as a computer room with multiple workstations that would be available to the membership as needed. Another big feature is the wellness center that includes workout equipment that is suited to older participants.

The kitchen features separated stations, including a butler’s pantry style room for food service, kitchen complete with stoves, refrigerators, and new freezers, and a separate room for the deep fryers.

Also included in the floor plan was an amazing space for a new gift shop, which by Saturday was filled to the brim with gorgeous items for sale. And finally, there is office space for the executive director, Dom Dalpoas, and a large and elegant boardroom complete with a beautiful crystal chandelier.

On Saturday, the Oasis opened its doors to the community inviting everyone in to see the transformation and help celebrate the organization’s 30 years of service to the Logan County community.

As part of the recognition of the new building, the Lincoln & Logan County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cut outside the building.

Ellen Burbage opened the ribbon cut by expressing appreciation to all the board members and the community for all they have done to help bring this day to fruition. Clearly emotional she ended her comments saying, “Who would have thought last June 21st that we would be here today.”

The Reverend Jan Johnson of the St. John’s United Church of Christ then led the group in a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing for the new facility and the organization on the whole.

Chamber director Andi Hake spoke prior to the snip of the ribbon, “On behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, we are so thrilled for you guys.” She continued, “Congratulations, we hope you have a long, long life here at your new Oasis home." Then with the crowd counting down, three, two, one - the ribbon was cut.

With the temperatures hitting above 90 degrees, the event was quickly moved back inside.

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Once inside the Oasis, Burbage acted as the master of ceremonies, introducing Mayor Keith Snyder, who offered words of congratulations to the Oasis for their 30 years, as well as the completion of their new building.

Dom Dalpoas spoke to a packed house. He talked about the sense of community that he has always felt in Lincoln and Logan County. He recalled that back in the day when a neighbor suffered a loss, everyone gathered around and helped that person overcome the loss. He said the past year had shown that sense of community is still strong in Lincoln and Logan County. He told the group, the Oasis could not have accomplished what it has in the past year had it not been for all those who were anxious to pitch in and help.

Dalpoas offered high praises to the people of the community and the volunteers who worked so hard to get the Oasis back on its feet. He offered up a closing remark saying, “In conclusion, you can travel all through the central part of Illinois, and for that matter I’m almost certain you could travel the state of Illinois, and you would not come across a center remotely close to what you are in right now.”

The official ceremony wrapped up with Burbage offering an acknowledgement of past directors, board members and present board members.

Past and present executive directors are Rebecca Drake (1984-1986), Jane Mikelson (1986-1991), MeLane Coulter (1991-1999), Judy Donath (1999-2001) and Dom Dalpoas (2001 to current).

Past and present board presidents are Ed Bayer – deceased (1984-1985), Bernice Hackett (1986-1987), Marge Fuller – deceased (1988-1991), Gene Chapman - deceased (1992-1994), Mary Alvey – deceased (1994-1996), Nancy Amberg – deceased (1996-1997), Dean Baker (1998 – 2001 and again in 2003), David Laforge – deceased (2003). John Hart (2004), John Drake (2005) Dennis Brown (2006-2007), Don Peasley (2008), Bob Albert (2009-2010), Bob Jeckel (2011-2012), Wally Reifsteck (2013-2014), and Ellen Burbage (2014 current).

Current board members are Ellen Burbage, president; Bob Parrish, vice president; Carol Schauer’, secretary; Shirley Jordan, treasurer; Bob Albert, Debra Aper, Marilyn Armburst, Alexis Asher, Harold Boyer, Lynnette Bruce, Betty Burger, Marcia Cook, Steve Elkins, Jean Hall, Nancy Kleinman, Elaine Knight, Janet Kvitle, Keith Leesman, David Newhouse and William Post.

Current Oasis staff includes Executive Director Dominic Dalpoas and Georgia Binzen as secretary.

With the close of the official ceremonies, all guests were invited to take tours of the building and to go into the dining room to enjoy refreshments including punch, fresh fruit, cupcakes and cake.



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