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Hodag Dome opens doors to community

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RHINELANDER, Wis. (WAOW) -- Dozens of people gathered inside the Northwoods' new Hodag Dome Monday morning for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Several individuals gave speeches on the artificial turf. Minutes later, people clapped and cheered as the ribbon was cut.

Hodag Schools Foundation President Dave Heck said the project leaders were thrilled.

"It's a great day for Rhinelander," said Heck. "But it's going to help so many other schools too. It's going to help other communities as well."

Following the cermeony, community members walked around the 127,000 square foot indoor facility. Students had several tennis matches and a basketball game underway.

School board member Mike Roberts said they've already seen the benefits of the dome based on the use by students.

"Now the community will be able to come in and take part in all the things we have to offer," explained Roberts. "With the walking track and the turf and the tennis courts. Pickeball courts, basketball courts. Everything kind of came together exactly how we envisioned it, so [we're] very happy."

Heck and Roberts are Jefferson Award recipients.

As the sounds of squeaky shoes and swooshes of basketballs filled the space, Dome Manager Janet Jamison added that the students had access to the space for about a month already.

"The community is really eager to get in the dome," said Jamison. "Winters in Rhinelander can be long and cold and the roads are icy, so we've had a lot of people stop by already and asked to take some tours and check out the walking area or the courts. So I think there will be a whole lot of community members here in the dome in the next few months."

She explained that community members will need to visit the Rhinelander School District website if interested in using the facility.

The project leaders also said they're looking ahead.

"There's always something in the wing," said Mike Roberts. "And we're looking at strategic planning and facilities planning going into the future. We'll take a brief pause here. Enjoy this moment and then move on to whatever comes next that we have to deal with."

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