Rhinelander Auto Center pledges $100k toward dome
Star Journal Staff
Hodag Schools Foundation (HSF) has announced a $100,000 donation from Rhinelander Auto Center toward the Hodag sports complex project. The donation comes in the form of a five year pledge designated for improvements to the Hodag Dome.
“We feel business owners have a responsibility to the communities where they operate,” said Rhinelander Auto Center owner Dan Towne. “It’s important to give back and be involved.”
A Rhinelander native, Towne began working with the dealership as an entry-level salesman and over 15 years has worked his way to the top of the company, taking over ownership last March.
“Communities that participate in sports, recreation and wellness activities develop strong social bonds, are safer places and their residents are generally healthier and happier,” Towne said. “Physical activity enhances cognitive function improving memory, behavior, concentration and academic achievement.”
HSF has secured more than $1.6 million in private donations for the complex, and is planning for more. Discussion about building an indoor sport facility in Rhinelander began last winter when Lee Swank donated $500,000 in seed money to the foundation. In addition, District Superintendent Kelli Jacobi stated, “The school district has set aside money from its fund balance for long-term planning and maintenance, to help self-sustain for decades.”
HSF board member and Rhinelander High School graduate Jonna Jewell said the new facility will give student athletes the space they need, adding, “Instead of practicing in congested hallways, Rhinelander students will be able to train in a safe, comfortable place.”
“The improvements in these Rhinelander facilities will change Rhinelander, benefitting students, the community and businesses, completely differentiating Rhinelander from its neighbor,” said school board member David Holperin.
The district is awaiting site plan and conditional use approval from the Rhinelander City Council. The school board will vote on a final design for the complex next month, followed by getting bids for the work. The dome is expected to be open for use next fall, and two softball fields in the complex will be ready for use in spring, 2021.