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Nature Center plans open house PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 11:13
Renovation plans and sketches for the Rotary Nature Center at Wintergarden/St. John's Nature Preserve will be featured at an open house at the center Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.
Attendees can also participate in holiday crafts and enter a drawing for a framed, custom matted print by area artist Harold Roe.
Naturalist walks will be available for those who want to explore the park.
Bowling Green's Parks and Recreation Foundation has embarked on the "Building on Nature" campaign to raise $300,000 to renovate the 47-year-old structure and add an outbuilding that will provide a modern restroom.
The project will update the heating, cooling and lighting systems and add insulation to the walls and ceilings throughout the building, while maintaining a rustic lodge feel.
Peggy Schmeltz, who joined with the local Jaycees in 1967 to raise money to construct a lodge at the then Wintergarden Park, is serving as honorary fundraising chairperson, working with foundation trustees Ellen Dalton and Dr. Charles Harper.
"I am delighted to be a part of renovating the Nature Center," Schmeltz said. "It is a vital part of this community and serves as a focal point for visitors to the nature preserve and the park's environmental education programs. What we are doing is building on the best of the Nature Center to meet current and future needs."
In 1967, the money raised by the community was matched 50/50 by then-Mayor Gus Skibbie, using the Recreation, Playground and Parks Fund. It took only a year to raise the needed funds from local businesses and citizens. The resulting lodge served to accommodate summer camps and overnight stays by local scouting groups, as well as an American Youth Hostel. It was renovated in 1995 to convert it to a nature center, with a window-on-wildlife and cozy meeting room with a fireplace and attached kitchen.
The foundation has raised over $1.2 million for the city parks since 2005-including building Simpson Garden Park and adding 19.6 acres to the nature preserve through a mix of public/private dollars.

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