(Lander, Wyo.) – On a smoky day, not unlike the day in June 2012 when the Lander Community Center burnt, the City of Lander has broken ground on a new facility.

In front of a crowd of more than 50 people, Mayor Mick Wolfe, Lander City Councilors, local legislators and the buildings’ architects turned over the first dirt this morning at the site of the future Lander Community Center.

Among those present were Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander; Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander; One Shot Antelope Hunt’s Terry Martin; former Rep. Del McOmie, R-Lander; and former Lander Mayor Jerry Heckart.

“One year ago almost, we stood here together devastated watching the community center burn,” Community Resource Coordinator Gary Michaud said. The original facility was destroyed in an electrical fire that started on its front porch. But now, Michaud said, the city is moving forward.

“This is a great day for us, a historic day for Lander,” Michaud added.

He said fundraising is ongoing to help fund the construction of the $5.4 million project. $1 million has been raised locally out of a needed $1.4 million. The lead contractor for the project is Sehnert Systems Inc. of Riverton.

Wolfe said the day was like deja vu for his family, who stood at that site in the 1930s, building the original center.

“We’re not building for us, we’re building for our children and for our grandchildren,” he said.

Wolfe then read a letter from Gov. Matt Mead. Mead wrote that the old community center cannot be replaced, but the new one will honor the spirit of the original and will be a “place to create new memories.”

“It is a testament to your strength and grit,” Mead said.

After photos were taken of the crowd that had gathered, Michaud invited everyone back next summer for the grand opening of the new Lander Community Center.