The Three Mile Community Center is now open

Three Mile Community Senior Center board members, left to right, Colleen Schmiedeke, Joyce Pando and Wendy Audiss in front of the new Lone Rock Park Community Center. Photo by Victoria Howell.

It’s been a long wait, but the new Three Mile Community Center is up and running. Located at 4433 Sunnyside Cemetery Road, the center is on the east side of Lone Rock Park. The building contains a large meeting room, a cozy kitchen, a state-of-the-art audiovisual system and a magnificent view of the Bitterroot Mountains to the west.

The building now houses the senior center and weekend backpacking program that serves Lone Rock School. The surrounding park includes soccer and baseball fields, tennis and volleyball courts, a walking path, playground and covered picnic shelter.

According to Colleen Schmiedeke, who sits on both the park’s board and the community center’s board, they started working on it in 2012 and incorporated in 2014. She said the total cost was d around $500,000. By the time Schmiedeke “got really into it”, the band had raised around $140,000. The park board made the decision to take out a loan to complete the project. She said they were working with Farmers State Bank to keep their loan repayments reasonable. These payments come from park taxes which are already being assessed, Schmiedeke prides itself on not having to levy a levy, so it won’t further impact people’s property taxes.

Community members enjoy a coffee hour three times a week at the new Three Mile Community Center. Photo by Victoria Howell.

In addition to the loan, the project was funded by the Three Mile Community Senior Center (the official name) which raised more than $80,000 through community picnics, fairs, bingo nights and member donations. from the community. Other major contributors were the Three Mile Fire District, Lone Rock Park, and the Rapp Family Foundation.

Schmiedeke said there were many volunteers who helped on the project, and TMCSC received reduced prices from the contractors. The general contractor donated labor and they got the windows from Pella for half the price.

Another big feature, Schmiedeke said, is the drive-thru cafe opening soon in the parking lot.

The Three Mile Community Center will hold a grand opening celebration on Saturday, April 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be games and refreshments. The community is invited to come and celebrate this stunning new facility.

Joyce Pando, president of the Three Mile Community Senior Center, serves her special coffee cake from the hot kitchen at the new center. Photo by Victoria Howell.

The Lone Rock Park is the legal owner of the center, but TMCSC will manage it and manage the programming. TMCSC is governed by a five-member Board of Directors. The current directors are Joyce Pando, President; Paul Hayes, Vice President; Colleen Schmiedeke, Secretary/Treasurer; Wendy Audiss, Sgt. at Arms/grant author; and Kenn Hoekstra, member at large. Board meetings are held the last Wednesday of the month at 7:30 a.m. and are open to the public. The group operates the Backpack program and also provides charitable assistance to individuals and groups in the Three Mile community. Members and/or the public can submit names of community groups or individuals who may be in need of charitable services, perhaps a family who has lost a parent or child in a tragedy, or someone in need of durable medical equipment.

A coffee hour takes place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7:30 a.m. and Schmiedeke says everyone is welcome to come and enjoy coffee and good conversation and get to know your neighbors.

Tonka trunks, courtesy of board member Colleen Schmiedeke, are ready to be played by youngsters at the playground just beyond the covered picnic shelter at Lone Rock Park . Photo by Victoria Howell.

More information can be found on the website at or by phone at 406-360-3385.

“Running the Three Mile Community Center, providing weekend backpacks and assisting community members in times of need is what defines our existence,” said Wendy Audiss, Board Member. “Our success is measured not just in dollars raised and redistributed in our community, but by providing services and improving life in our community.”

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Jill E. Washington