Only five years into its existence, the Flint Hills Discovery Center is still in its infancy, Manhattan Mayor Usha Reddi, said.
“When you think of the grand scheme of things, this is still very young,” Reddi said. “But it’s come a long way.”
The Discovery Center celebrated its fifth anniversary Friday afternoon with several people who were part of the its creation speaking about the hard work that went into coming up with a plan, building the facility and keeping it going.
Reddi said the building on north side of Manhattan’s Blue Earth Plaza is a beautiful structure the city can highlight and show off. She said it is often the first thing people see when the drive into town.
“It’s no longer just an apple, this is what you see on our postcards,” Reddi said. “This is the structure you see when you see fliers, brochures and the website. This is what you want everybody on the outside of Kansas to see.”
Bob Workman, former Discovery Center director, spoke to the audience about the planning and construction it took to build the facility. He said he knew it was a great project because design firms still use him as a reference.
He said there was a lot of creativity, thoughtfulness and commitment to quality in the creation of the facility.
“I had written my remarks but this isn’t the group to have written remarks, this is the group to speak from the heart,” he said. “You made a masterpiece and I’m so proud of it.”
Reddi said the facility is a great option for young children and families to spend time.
She also pointed to the annual Festival of Lights in the plaza and how many people come to town to celebrate the winter holiday season there.
Reddi thanked the work of current Discovery Center director Susan Adams and the many volunteers who work at the facility. “Something like this doesn’t run by itself,” she said. “There is a lot of heart and soul in it. There are people who come here that can feel it.” Although the facility is young, Reddi said people still need to defend the fact that it is subsidized by public funding. But she pointed to Sunset Zoo as an example of a local attraction that received public funding that eventually became self sustaining. “It is still just a baby and we still have a lot to give,” she said. “We’re just at the beginning phase and the best is yet to come.”
Before ending the ceremony, Adams thanked the staff, discovery center members and the many people of the Manhattan and Flint Hills community who helped create the center.
“There are so many of you, I can’t even reflect on everyone,” she said. “I do want you to know how important you are to the discovery center. We just so appreciate the support and we really can not do it without you.”