Evart puts in an ice rink and begins a new era for the community


DSC05376The community of Evart, in Osceola county, is glad to see the recent cold weather. Residents can finally skate on their new outdoor ice rink.

The ice rink started as an idea in the mind of Deb Booher, a local resident, Director of the local community volunteer group, and all around spit fire. She wanted to give community members, and particularly kids, something to do over the winter months.

“Well I grew up here and we spent a lot of time skating. So when my grandson and I were talking about ‘what do people do in Evart when they don’t have a lot of resources?’ It came to my mind that this might be a doable something for this winter.”  

Not long after that conversation Booher started looking into some of the logistics for her plan.

“I wandered around town looking for a place that could house an ice rink.”

She stopped in on local offices to see if they would be willing to support her idea. Her pitch was uniquely persuasive.

“What I said at all of them is ‘I’m old, so I don’t want a five year plan.’ And besides, our kids are growing up. So let’s look to do it this year”

Booher’s plan really started getting traction when she found a company  that could do the work of building a rink.

“And then what happened kind of next is I was at a meeting in Big Rapids and I mentioned the ice rink and they put me in touch with the Big Rapids folks who had put an ice rink in a few years ago. That was the first time really that I had any idea what I was talking about.”

The company Booher got a hold of quoted her five thousand dollars to build the rink, so she was going to need help from the community to get funding.  That’s when the local political machinery started moving.

Dan Joyce is the President of the local Chamber of Commerce. He said the final thing that the plan needed to get traction was money. He learned about the planned ice rink from Evart’s Public works supervisor.

“Mark came to us and went to Eric who was mayor until recently, he’s the vice president of the chamber, and everybody thought this was a great idea so we looked at this from the chamber side and said we’ll donate the rest of the money and hopefully do some fundraising afterwards to recoup the rest and hopefully we’ll make this happen quickly.”

The chamber voted to approve funds earlier in December and the ice rink is already up, save for one final detail: the cold.

As the weather begins to cooperate, Joyce and Booher reflect on what the rink means for the community.

“We’re a small town who has gone through a lot in the last few years good and bad and there’s a whole bunch of really neat things happening. You look around at how quickly something like this happens you had very little bureaucracy people just saying let’s make this happen, pull the trigger and go. It’s being coming a ‘we’ mentality instead of a ‘you guys’ mentality I think.”

“I just see it as a way for all of us to be together. I think when we get to know people that we may not know otherwise and see them as individuals and value them our community grows stronger. I think this is a wonderful place some of that can happen.”
Now the residents of Evart are hoping the winter freeze continues, so they can get together and skate.