Saturday, March 15, 2014
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Webster Construction to remodel new home for Oasis

Fricke-Calvert-Schrader to donate new lighted sign

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[March 15, 2014]  Thursday, the patrons of the Oasis Senior Center gathered for their monthly potluck lunch. The group meets in the fellowship hall of St. John United Church of Christ. After the fire last June that destroyed the senior center's home on Lincoln's downtown square, the church offered their hall to the senior organization until they could regroup and decide what they would do about their burned-out building.

This week, in addition to celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a corned beef and cabbage lunch, the membership also celebrated another step toward establishing a new permanent home.

Last October, the senior group bought Rusty's Clubhouse on the city's west side. As the diners enjoyed their St. Patrick's meal, executive director Dom Dalpoas announced that the building committee had selected a contractor to redesign the former steakhouse into a beautiful new home for the Oasis.

Webster Construction of Lincoln has been awarded the contract and has already started work on the interior of the former restaurant. Dalpoas introduced Webster co-owners Kurt Fitzpatrick and Mike Miller to the crowd. The men were called to the front of the room, with Dalpoas making a joke, telling everyone to look and remember their faces because when they have issues with the construction, these will be the two men to call on.

Both men spoke briefly expressing appreciation for the contract and a desire to do a good job for the seniors.

Dalpoas shared another very important announcement shortly thereafter. He told the audience that the owners and staff of Fricke-Calvert-Schrader Funeral Homes were a group of people that the community has come to count on in times of need. Those times of need are usually at the loss of a loved one, but on this occasion, Fricke-Calvert-Schrader had recognized another need in the community and had come forward to answer that need with a generous donation. They are providing the lighted signage that will be installed at the new Oasis site.

Dalpoas told the group that providing the signage for the Oasis was no small gift, that to have the signage they needed was going to cost quite a bit of money, and Fricke-Calvert-Schrader's gift was greatly appreciated by the building committee.

Dalpoas said the signage would be installed shortly and that with good luck, the Oasis would have a lighting ceremony before the end of the month. The folks from Fricke would be the ones to "throw the switch" for the first time.

Chuck and Nathan Fricke along with Steve Jenness and Ron Olthoff were also brought to the front of the room for the group to acknowledge with applause. Afterward Chuck Fricke spoke briefly, saying his father was the first to own the funeral home, then himself, and now the third-generation owner is Chuck's son Nathan. Chuck turned the microphone over to Nathan, who spoke briefly, acknowledging the generosity of St. John's for giving the Oasis a place to meet.

Dalpoas also told the crowd that the blueprints for the new floor plan were on hand for anyone who wanted to take a look at them. He said there were still some small details that needed be worked out, such as light switches and other miscellaneous items. He invited anyone who had suggestions on these matters to share them.

In the floor plans, the main front entry of the building will remain where it is now. To the right, on the east end, will be a community space for social gathering. It will feature a fireplace on the east wall with a flat-screen television over the mantel and a comfortable sitting area.

There will also be several table and chair groupings for games and coffee klatches.

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In the back northeast corner of the room will be a separate area set up as a computer lab, and four offices will be located along the north wall, working toward the center of the building.

In the center of the building will be the Oasis Gift Shop, a board and meeting room, and a fitness room with exercise equipment.

The restaurant kitchen will be updated and used by the Oasis as well.

On the west end of the building, the dining area will continue to be in two sections as it was when it was a restaurant. There will be a separate entry on the west end of the building into the dining area and another entry into a corridor leading to pantry storage and the kitchen.

When the Oasis first purchased the retired restaurant, there was talk of partitioning off a portion of the building to lease to another business or agency. Thursday afternoon Oasis board president Wallace Reifsteck said those plans had changed. However, he said what they may do in the future is rent out portions of their space for meetings or banquets.

He said the far west end dining area could be let out to anyone wishing to rent dining space. The east end of the building could also be let out, but because it will have carpet instead of tile, they would prohibit food in that area.

During his monthly announcements at the end of lunch, Dalpoas told the group the timeline for completion of the remodeling is in the range of May 19 to June 2. As he read the announcements for upcoming events for the seniors, he noted that there will be an AARP driver course on June 10, and he said it is scheduled to take place at the new building.

The decision to purchase the Rusty's building was made after extensive work by the Oasis building committee. Right after the fire, the group held hopes of restoring their downtown building, but complications with mold as well as compliance issues and the cost of restoration brought the group to conclude that restoration was not going to be feasible.

According to Marilyn Armbrust, who served on the committee, the group looked at many locations before deciding on the former restaurant. When they chose Rusty's, they did so based on some specific assets the property had to offer. The group noted the large parking area, something they didn't have at the old location. They also appreciated that the building was wheelchair-accessible and already had ADA-compliant restrooms. In addition, the space provides the group with everything they need, not just for the here and now, but also looking to the future of the Oasis and its membership, in that it has room for them to grow and accommodate the changing needs of Logan County seniors.


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