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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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January 26, 2020

Submitted photoPictured, from left to right, are Tim Nordby, general sales manager; Tarsie Goes, marketing coordinator; Dave Heck, HSF president;  Dan Towne, owner of Rhinelander GM and Toyota; David Holperin, school board member; Carl Howard, controller; Miranda Gavrilescu, marketing coordinator; Brian Paulson, HSF board member and activities director.
Submitted photo


Pictured, from left to right, are Tim Nordby, general sales manager; Tarsie Goes, marketing coordinator; Dave Heck, HSF president; Dan Towne, owner of Rhinelander GM and Toyota; David Holperin, school board member; Carl Howard, controller; Miranda Gavrilescu, marketing coordinator; Brian Paulson, HSF board member and activities director.
12/14/2019 7:30:00 AM
Rhinelander Auto Center pledges $100K for dome project

Heather Schaefer
Associate Editor


The Rhinelander community continues to rally around the School District of Rhinelander's Hodag Sports Complex project. One week after Peoples State Bank announced a $100,000 donation to the project another local business, Rhinelander Auto Center (Rhinelander GM and Toyota), announced its own $100,000 donation toward the construction of an air-supported dome and related facilities.

The Rhinelander Auto Center donation will come in the form of a pledge over five years, "designated for improvements to the Hodag athletic multi-purpose complex, specifically the Hodag Dome," according to a press release from the Hodag Schools Foundation, the non-profit organization coordinating the private fundraising for the project.

"We feel business owners have a responsibility to the communities where they operate. It's important to give back and be involved," said Dan Towne, owner of Rhinelander Auto Center. "Towne, who was an entry-level salesman at Rhinelander Auto Center in early 2000, worked his way to the top of the company over the course of 15 years. A proud Rhinelander native, he credits his start in the car business to his father-in-law, who worked at a local dealership and encouraged him to apply. After assisting with the purchase and successful growth of a sister store, Durango Motor Company in Colorado, Towne returned to Rhinelander in 2016, overseeing Rhinelander Auto Center's day-to-day operations as general manager. He became owner in March 2019 and Towne remains committed to the Rhinelander area."

"Sports and recreation is not only about winning, it's about helping build stronger, healthier, happier, and safer communities," Towne continued. "Communities that participate in sports, recreation, and wellness activities develop strong social bonds, are safer places, and their residents are generally healthier and happier. Physical activity enhances cognitive function improving memory, behavior, concentration, and academic achievement. We here at Rhinelander Auto Center believe sports activities are a great way for children to learn essential skills such as teamwork and cooperation that will serve them later in life."

He went on to add, "This dome will be versatile so it won't only cater to our community of Hodag athletes, but will be useful for Rhinelander High School students and departments like physical education and band. Additionally, it will give our community a chance to host activities and events such as tournaments and fundraisers."

Rhinelander Auto Center believes improving outdoor facilities will benefit the community by bringing people together and providing opportunities for social interaction and networking, the release states. They agree that facilities of this type create positive alternatives for youth, provide a vehicle for inclusion, and bring people of different backgrounds together, promoting volunteering.

"Sports and recreation clubs are the hub of community life, especially in small rural locations like Rhinelander and its surrounding areas," noted Towne. "It balances work and life, fostering community pride."

Rhinelander Auto Center trusts that building this complex will help grow the athletic department of the schools and community which in turn will attract future business leaders and their families, the release concludes.

Towne summed up the reason to support this project by saying, "One of our values includes being good community citizens. We give willingly to and are actively involved in the support of our local communities because they provide us our success. Donating to local organizations also fosters good will. It shows that we care about the future of Rhinelander and the youth that will shape it. It's not about adding to or growing our bottom line, but about shaping future generations to be proud of where they grew up. Hopefully, they will see the value in that and want to continue that tradition - to continue building Rhinelander into a great community."

Jonna Jewell, an HSF board member and 1971 graduate of Rhinelander High School, applauds the coming changes. "Instead of practicing in congested hallways, Rhinelander students will be able to train in a safe, comfortable place. HSF is fortunate to have the support of local businesses such as Rhinelander Auto Center."

"The improvements in these Rhinelander facilities will change Rhinelander, benefitting students, the community, and businesses, completely differentiating Rhinelander from its neighbors," added Rhinelander school board member David Holperin. "The District thanks Rhinelander Auto Center for its generous gift."

Kelli Jacobi, district superintendent, also thanked Rhinelander Auto Center for its generosity.

"The facility improvements are designed to benefit the entire community and will help attract students and families, which in turn brings state aid to the school," Jacobi said. "The money is being raised from private donations and the school district, which has also set aside money from their fund balance for long term planning and maintenance, to help self-sustain for decades. The donation is directed toward the Hodag Schools Foundation which in turn directs the money to our school to help fund the project."

The sports complex project was jump-started in early 2019 after Dr. Lee Swank and family donated $500,000 to build a facility that would help local student-athletes whose practice schedules are often hampered by cold weather well into spring.

In June, the school board voted to spend up to $5.7 million, on top of $1.2 million in private donations, to build an air-supported dome for indoor practices, competitions and other community uses.





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