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Carter Lake residents celebrate new community center and library

CARTER LAKE, Iowa (Nebraska) – Just opened in January, the Carter Lake Community Center is a brand new facility that has been in the pipeline for a long time.

“I would say city dwellers have been wanting to create a community center for over 20 years,” said Lake City Clerk Carter Jackie Karl.

She says the city has been saving up money through the tax on hotels and motels for years, but couldn’t raise enough money until the prairie flower bloomed in the city.

“It became doable: as soon as the casino funds started coming in, we also started saving those funds, and then we got into bonds, because bonds were so cheap that it was a workable idea at the time.”

Now the city proudly boasts of its community center. New renovations and construction cost approximately $5 million.

The Carter Lake Community Center opened its doors in January and is still a hit with residents.

“We built a high school-sized gym with a treadmill and moved seniors activities to our building so seniors have a beautiful space. Then we have pickleball, three days a week at the gym.”

David Hansen is an athlete who plays pickleball. He says the community center brings a lot to Carter Lake.

“Together, connecting with people, I love it,” he said. “Growing up, you need activity.”

It also has a fitness center loaded with equipment.

The Carter Lake Library was also rebuilt.

“We’ve got new staff there with great ideas, and it’s really gotten really nice.”

Shannon Putney joins this new staff as Library Director. She has been working for about a year.

“I think the combination of both, the library and the community center being in the same space, gives the community the ability to do it all in the same space,” Putney said. “You can do something physical, you can do something for your mind.”

Outside, the Carter Lake Community Center is still growing. They are clearing space to add a mudguard and perhaps an amphitheater or outdoor sports fields. Jackie says the place has become a big part of society.

“There was no place for people to just sit and enjoy a conversation. It was nice to have that kind of camaraderie, and we’ve only been open since January.”

Carter Lake officials will receive input from the community to decide what to do with their open space.

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