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Rejuvenated curling club celebrates contributors and volunteers

The Elk Point Curling Club celebrated the grand opening of a new ice surface Feb. 8.

ELK POINT - Elk Point Curling Club celebrated the grand opening of their new ice surface last Wednesday, and paid tribute to a long list of contributors and volunteers who helped to make all the changes over recent years a possibility.

While some may think that rejuvenating the 62-year-old rink “is like putting lipstick on a pig,” Tyler Warawa told the crowd of curlers and contributors, “The biggest loss during COVID was the loss of community. Tonight isn’t about the curling, it’s about the community spirit.”

In 2019, the club had the rink’s chiller refurbished and the front entry and washrooms refurbished, an entrance ramp installed and the whole front of the rink given a fresh new look, Warawa said. “It cost $90,000 and we got a $42,000 Community Facility Enhancement Program grant that paid a big part of it.

The Staffords contributed $5,000 from the Pete Stafford Memorial fund, the Oilmen’s Association gave us $5,000, Lorn Berg installed the new lighting, Big M Mechanical installed the new heaters and Geoff Hoyle updated the bathrooms.” With that update completed, the club was all set to embark on the next step, the long-awaited installation of a cement floor.

They knew it would be a big job, and “we do as much volunteer work as we can, investing our time makes the funding go further, we stretch each dollar as far as we can,” Warawa noted. “When we decided to do the concrete, we hired Reward Construction, and they let us volunteer, even when we got in their way. It was a really fantastic project.”

A $125,000 matching grant was approved just before COVID struck, which was also supposed to cover repairs to the roof, but during the pandemic, prices rose considerably and the roof repairs were put on hold, he said.

“It was the right decision for us.”

Funding contributions from the County of St. Paul, Elk Point Insurance, CNRL, the Elk Point Oilmen’s Association, UFA and the Community Lions of Elk Point came in, along with sand donated by Elk Point Sand and Gravel, rebar from Champion, and the use of equipment from Hahn Welding, who loaned a skid steer, Prairie Tech’s mini-hoe and Doug and Cathy Lindquist’s skid steer, while another firm donated the use of compaction equipment.

“JPD did a ton of work as well as donations, the Lions tied the rebar as well as donating and renting our upstairs. We used volunteers for everything, it was all volunteers.” Learning about the Hack-to-Hack full-sheet liners, which Warawa calls “a fantastic product,” the club “sold the sheets for 10 years” to MCSnet, CRJ, RONA and the Elk Point Elks Lodge, whose logos were imprinted in the circles, Warawa said, “and MCSnet also gave us free Wi-Fi for upstairs.”

“We really wanted to recognize everyone, and we wanted you to know your money wasn’t wasted, nor were all the volunteer hours in evenings and weekends.”

The grand opening wrapped up with a “Break the Ice” ceremony, where MLA Dave Hanson, who said he hadn’t curled for quite some time, sending a perfect rock right into the house on the CRJ sheet, junior curler Zach Germain repeating the process on the Elks sheet, longtime Curling Club president Curtis Porcina throwing his rock on the RONA sheet and County of St. Paul Coun.

Kevin Wirsta, who said he learned to curl and to love curling in Elk Point as a 4-H member, sending his rock down the MCSnet sheet.

Following a wall-to-wall photo of all the contributors and volunteers in attendance, it was time for the Wednesday evening teams to lace up their shoes, grab their brooms and hit the ice for the evening’s games, with the curling season still in full swing.