Help complete rink of dreams

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When challenged, somehow, this community always meets the need.

Food bank shelves empty? Check. Suddenly they're stocked, and a third food bank is opened.

Last December, in the wake of a devastating recession, this newspaper raised a record amount to ensure every Kootenai County family could enjoy a very merry Christmas.

And it seems the greater the challenge, the greater the response. Kroc Community Center needs $1 million in donations for seed money? Got that, and much, much more.

North Idaho College raised millions for a health science center, taxpayers pitched in for a gem of a new library and public safety upgrades, and just weeks ago, the state's first Hospice House opened its heart and its doors to serve the dying and their families. It was built on the same foundation of generosity that has accompanied virtually every other capital campaign in the area.

There's another outstanding nonprofit that needs and deserves a positive push from the community: Kootenai Youth Recreation Organization. Instead of closing up shop when heavy snows crushed their ice rink in 2008, the group took its $2 million insurance settlement and created a larger, more dynamic and poised-for-the-future facility just off Seltice Way west of Atlas Road in Coeur d'Alene.

With the intent of opening year-round, supporters have laid out a parking lot more than twice the size of the previous dirt lot. With help from the city's urban renewal agency, the Centennial Trail just behind the new arena will link bike and walking paths to the Kroc Center and to NIC and City Beach. During warm weather, children will be able to ride their bikes to Kroc, to the KYRO rink and to the beach without ever having to cross a dangerous street.

But right now, the hulking frame of KYRO ice rink is just that. Several hundred thousand dollars are needed to complete the work, which is now at a standstill as winter marches closer. For $150,000, KYRO President Vince Hughes says the rink can be readied and the doors opened for business, even though not all the work will be finished.

Hughes understands KYRO's additional challenge. Even though the facility will provide a healthy, affordable alternative for thousands of children in the region, donating to it isn't something that tugs at the heart like a Hospice House or even a Kroc Center. How many North Idaho families grew together on skates and feel the visceral tug rooted in that experience when KYRO asks for a donation? Not many.

Regardless, The Press ardently supports this project because it's a benefit to the community on several levels. Not only will it become an exercise haven for kids in winter, but it will boost business by hosting tournaments and events.

To arrange a tour of the new KYRO arena, call Manager Matthew Beam at 765-4423. You can also donate directly at www.kyro.org.

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