BYRON, Neb.- When you drive into the small Thayer County community of Byron, you can't help but notice the huge community center there.
The effort to build the community center apparently started back in 2011, when a number of residents go together to identify some needs that the town had. "We decided that we needed a library, a community center, and a fire hall," community resident Jeremy Heitmann said. After the firemen successfully got a fire hall built, it was decided that the library and community center should be in one building.
"We needed a fundraising mechanism, so we got hooked up with the Nebraska Community Foundation, and we are a fund under that foundation," Heitmann said. "We just sketched out a plan, had good support for it, and just started raising money." The building was completed in late 2014. "We found out really quickly that a lot of people wanted to see it happen," Heitmann said. A large gift of land from an individual did help get the plans in motion. "We started at a $1 million building, but it ended up being $1.2 when we added the fitness center that we found the community really wanted," Heitmann said.
So the building not only houses a big hall for big events like weddings, but it also has that fitness center, and a new library that the town uses often.
Heitmann encourages other towns to work together to upgrade and improve buildings and infrastructure for the future. "This town is not ready to die. We don't have a school here, but that doesn't mean the town is dead. We aren't going anywhere," Hetimann said.