(Effingham) – The Richard E. Workman Sports and Wellness Complex, located at 1301 N. Maple in Effingham, had its Grand opening Saturday afternoon after a ribbon cutting ceremony. The event packed the concourse of the recently opened sports complex with local officials, donors, and members of the public. Effingham Mayor Jeff Bloemker kicked off the festivities with a speech thanking those involved with the with the multiyear protect.
The facility opened its doors back in February, but had to put off a grand opening due to key donor, and namesake, Dr. Rick Workman’s availability. Dr. Workman, a native of Ingraham and CEO/founder Heartland Dental, contributed the single biggest donation of 5 million dollars for the construction of the complex. He said that the contribution was to help realize a dream for the community.
Effingham Park District Board President David McDevitt said that various groups had been trying to build a sports complex in the area since the early 1990’s, including the Park District and the City of Effingham. After several failed attempts due to funding, the project was scrapped until as recently as 2010. The 5 million dollar donation from Dr. Workman kick-started the project once again in 2013, leading to community funding efforts which raised over 3 million dollars for the complex. McDevitt said that he was relieved to see the project come to fruition.
Construction of the facility began in September of 2014.
Fundraising from the community was organized by the Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation. Joedy Hightower, President and CEO of the Foundation, said that funds were raised for the project in an impressive twelve month time frame.
The Community Foundation will also continue operate a permanently endowed fund, donated by HSHS St. Anthony’s and Midland States Bank, that will be used to help low-income families have access to complex memberships. “This year, we have awarded eleven scholarships to families in Effingham County” said Hightower.
General Manager of the facility, Jake Junghanel said that learning what it takes to run the complex has been challenge. The complex has two pools, a gym, fitness center, track, lazy river, and many programs and classes. “Plans need to to change to due the needs,” Junghanel said. The complex currently has just shy of 1700 memberships and Junghanel predicts that the number will continue to grow as more residents become aware of the facility.