The complex would include a regional Events Center, a recreation center with indoor aquatic facilities, a state-of-the-art auditorium, a historical museum, an improved and enlarged weight room at the high school, a new bus barn for the school district, and new or enhanced parking areas.
To make the dream a reality, the six organizations made it official: they formed an intergovernmental entity, known in Iowa parlance as a 28E, in reference to the chapter of state code that defines and regulates this type of agreement.
The partnership that created the Cedar River Complex includes the Mitchell County Agricultural Society, Mitchell County Historical Society, City of Osage, Osage Municipal Utilities, Osage Community Schools and Osage Education Foundation.
They couldn’t tackle this alone, however, and wouldn’t have to. As word of the concept spread, community members eagerly volunteered to serve on dozens of committees, from design to public relations to fundraising.
The scope of this innovative project and depth of community collaboration inspired believers and investors far beyond the borders of Mitchell County. Chief among them were Robert and Patricia Kern. Robert, a 1943 Osage graduate, and his wife issued a $5 million challenge grant. In just two years, the initial fundraising goal was exceeded through additional private donations of more than $2 million, a $1.7 million Vision Iowa grant from the state Department of Economic Development, and a combined $5 million from the six partner organizations.
The Events Center would be built on the Mitchell County Fairgrounds. The Recreation & Fine Arts Center would occupy property between the middle/high school and existing city swimming pool, owned by the City of Osage, the Osage High School and the adjacent Mitchell County Fairgrounds
Building designs were completed in 2007. Construction started on the events center in October of that year; doors opened the following June, the same day that ground was broken for the Recreation & Fine Arts Center.
In April 2009, a ribbon cutting celebrated the completion of the high school’s new weight room, the school district’s new bus barn, and a new parking lot with 364 spaces.
A Grand Opening Celebration was held April 24, 2010.