Groundbreaking ceremony marks a new building |

Groundbreaking ceremony marks a new building

Steve Ranson
LVN Editor Emeritus
Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford (center) leads government officials and community members in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new youth center.
Steve Ranson / LVN

Community leaders took a big step forward Wednesday in the future of the area’s youth.

A groundbreaking ceremony marked the official beginning of construction for the William N. Pennington Fallon Youth Center at Venturacci Park, which will cost $5,339,400. According to information released by the city in December 2017, the Pennington Foundation awarded the city of Fallon a $4.5 million grant toward the center, and both the city and Churchill County secured about $1.4 million in required project matching funds.

“This is a special day for Churchill County and Fallon,” said Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford. “This is really a long awaited day that many of us have truly anticipated.”

Before the groundbreaking for the 15,500-square-foot building, Tedford introduced both government officials, community leaders, representatives from the William N. Pennington Foundation and businesses responsible for the construction from the architectural plans to financing. The construction company is K7 Construction in Reno, and the building should be completed in about a year.

Tedford had a special acknowledgment for former Churchill County Controller Alan Kalt, who worked with the foundation on the senior center on South Maine Street. Commission Chairman Pete Olsen added the ceremony was a great day for the community’s children.

“I can’t say enough about the William N. Pennington Foundation for what they have done for our community,” Olsen said. “What a blessing they have been in so many ways.”

Olsen said current and future generations will enjoy the facility and thanked the mayor, city council and his fellow commissioners for their dedication to the youth and those who have had a direct role in working with children such as teachers.

Tedford said his administration has been dedicated to youth, seniors and veterans, and he looks forward to seeing the completion of the building. According to the Pennington Foundation, the youth center will have a large multi-purpose room with a stage platform and necessary kitchen facilities to support the nutrition program for the youth center, learning rooms with computers, a recreation center, art room, teen center, meeting rooms, hangout areas and adequate administration and conference rooms to administer vital youth programming.

The new youth center will replace the current building located in the former Churchill School District Administration Building on East Richards Street. The Pennington Foundation also said the new center will have a separated playground and outdoor recreational area and an expansive parking area with a drop-off and pick-up zone for children.

Formed in 1989 by the late William N. Pennington, a gaming industry pioneer and philanthropist, the Pennington Foundation has provided grants to Northern Nevada-based organizations in the areas of education, community services, health care and medical research. Tedford gave a background on the philanthropist, whose parents were farmers in Kansas. He said Pennington, who attended the University of California in Berkley, enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II where he became a bomber pilot.

Tedford lauded Pennington’s philanthropic endeavors that cover Nevada and its many small towns, and many buildings at the University of Nevada, Reno bear his name. According to its mission statement, “the Foundation supports organizations primarily in the State of Nevada, with an emphasis on Reno and Northern Nevada. The focus is upon education and medicine to build a broad base to help people and families through difficult times.”

Many area’s students also experienced the generosity of the William N. Pennington Foundation through scholarships when Western Nevada College began the Jump Start program for high-school juniors and seniors. Jump Start College is a partnership between WNC and 14 western Nevada high schools that offer high-achieving juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn an associate degree prior to their high-school graduation. Participating area high schools include Churchill County, Fernley, Oasis Academy and Silver Stage.