PEORIA, Ill. -- There was a sudden energy at the Carver Community Center Friday morning.
Closed in 2011, the Carver Center has re-opened now that a $1.5-million renovation project is nearly complete.
"It's a day of celebration. It has been a long journey and we are very excited to be able to re-open the doors," said Ronda Guyton, a vice-president of the Carver Center board of directors.
About two years ago the center was deeply in debt. Those financial issues have since been resolved, but not without overcoming a number of hurdles.
"We really had to start from the ground up. Getting our finances in order, getting our staffing in order, a board of governance, an operating procedure manual in order," explained Norman Lippett, Carver Center board chairman. "When you look at it we had to really start from scratch."
The new Carver Center has an auditorium with a stage. There are new offices and family areas, as well as rooms where health and fitness programs will be available.
One of the biggest improvements is upstairs. Two classrooms have been built, complete with Smart-Board technology.
"It gets them ready for high school. It gets them ready for college," said Stephen Harvey, a long-time volunteer at the center. "We teach them things before it even happens. We get them ready for all of those things that they're going to see at a young age."
And board members are hoping everyone will learn that the Carver Center isn't just for people who live nearby.
"Its not just for the 61605 or 61615, its for everybody in Peoria County," said Guyton. "We want to be a resource, a one-stop shop for everybody."