(SUNBURST) – According to Sunburst Mayor Holly Hovland, "one miracle after another" led to this morning's ribbon-cutting on the facility residents said in a recent needs assessment survey the town needed more than anything else - a community center.

Sunburst Mayor Holly Hovland addresses the crowd before the ribbon-cutting for the new Sunburst Community Center  - Photo Credit: Mark Daniels

The town was one of 100 communities awarded a $150,000 grant by the Lowes Corporation for a renovation project. Sunburst elected to turn an abandoned shop building into a community center, complete with a large kitchen.  The town council negotiated the purchase of the building from Hank and Jacque Coolidge, and the Sunburst Community Foundation has helped with the payments. Toole County kicked in matching funds to help with the water system. Speaking at the ribbon-cutting, Hovland praised the community's cooperation and determination to see the project through.

The Lowes donation was one of the series of miracles she mentioned. Bill Boltz, a Sunburst native and 1980 graduate of North Toole County High School. Today he is the Executive Vice President for Merchandising for Lowes. He told those gathered that originally, Sunburst was deemed too far from a Lowes store (the nearest is in Helena) to be considered for the grant. Then, "our CEO, Marvin Ellison, got involved, and said 'No. This is special. We're going to give back, and we're going to do this project in Bill's hometown.'  And that's how it happened," Boltz recalled.

View of the partially-completed kitchen in the new Sunburst Community Center. - Photo Credit: Mark Daniels.

When told that the town would still need to raise bout $50,000 to finish the renovation, Boltz said Lowes will cover it.

While the actual renovation work is well underway, it has a ways to go before completion. Community members have provided more than a thousand manhours of labor already, and are hoping to have the new Community Center ready to host the annual Christmas Stroll in early December.