The Wallowa County Family/Youth Center, a nonprofit organization, has announced plans to be operational and open for activities by Nov. 1. The center, located at 83346 Joseph Highway (across the highway from Wallowa Mountain Properties and Joseph Bronze), has been undergoing interior remodeling and will continue to make improvements to the property both inside and out. Many local businesses and individuals have donated time, labor, materials, and furnishings to see this project come together, according to Terry Despain, project coordinator. A grand opening celebration is being planned for sometime in November.

The center was created to provide a positive environment open to all community members, families, and especially the youth of Wallowa County for social events, sporting and recreational activities, and educational assistance, according to Despain. The center will be open after school and in the evening during the week and all day on Fridays and Saturdays; it will be closed on Sundays during the school year except for special events.

There is a computer lab with filtered Internet access available for student use, a snack bar, a game room with a foosball and two professional pool tables, and outdoor games such as volleyball and badminton. Various classes for all ages will be offered to the community and there are meeting rooms available for community use with prior notice. Coming events include concerts, possibly a Halloween party, a Christmas Open House, and special after-game activities. The Center also plans to be open extended hours during the Christmas Break, and to offer a New Year's Eve party for local youth.

Planned improvements to the property include an outdoor open amphitheater, a separate multi-purpose building/gymnasium, and eventually an indoor pool. Grants are already being written and private donations solicited to make these plans into reality. While the amphitheater is expected to be completed sometime next Spring or early Summer, the gym and especially the pool will be more long-term projects. The center also hopes to eventually add a field for soccer, baseball, softball, and/or football.

The center's board of directors is inviting anyone in the community who is interested in donating their time, materials, or items, or serving on a committee, the advisory board, or board of directors to contact the center for more information on how they can help. The center is also looking for local youth who would like to join the student advisory board; applications are available at each school office, or by calling the center at (541) 432-0750.

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